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Volume XXV No 1 July 2013 The KIT Newsletter editorial staff welcomes all suggested contributions for publication in the Newsletter from subscribers and readers, but whether a given submission meets the criteria for publication is at the sole discretion of the editors. While priority will be given to original contributions by people with past Bruderhof connections, any letters, articles, or reports which the editors deem to be of historical or personal interest or to offer new perspectives on issues of particular relevance to the ex-Bruderhof Newsletter readership may be included as well. The editors may suggest to the authors changes to improve their presentation.
Have you made your KIT Newsletter subscription/donation payment this year? Please find details on last page.
Contents Annual Gathering at Friendly Crossways Letter to the Editors: Good Pieces and Better Ones “We Want Peace” – No Drones! Claire Lord married Frazer Maclntosh Hans and Elisabeth Bohlken Celebrating Fiftieth Anniversary KIT Accounts - Financial Year 2012-2013 Emil (Migg) Fischli – 27th June 1916 to 7th January 2013 Some Sayings of Migg Fischli Remembering Lienhard Gneiting Fondly Remembering August Pleil Friends joined with the Family A Thank You from my Heart 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 7 7 8 9 9 Celebrating Clara Arnold Berman’s Life A Testament to Clara’s Loving Spirit Uncle Albert has Passed Away I am Thankful for the Big Sister in my Life A Death in Danthonia: Irene Maendel’s Last Days, and Their Aftermath Family Divided as Doctor Cleared of Misconduct The Forest River Affair, 1955-57: Loves Labors Lost? A Wheathill Teenager’s Perspective Essential for Those who Experienced Totalist Religion 8. Oh Heart, Where Are You Going? – Part 5 Change of Address for Joy Morrison KIT Contact Details – Last page 10 11 11 13 14 14 15 18 18 21 22
_____________________________________________________________________ Annual Gathering at Friendly Crossways – August 16-18, 2013
By Maeve Whitty Yes, our annual gathering is happening in the USA this summer 2013! – At the Friendly Crossways Retreat Center in Massachusetts, near Boston (Logan International airport) on the weekend of August 16-18. Boston is north of New York City, for those of you in Europe. Please consider coming, if you haven't already. There will be time to share our lives – both past and present, to cook, eat, hike, play and sing together. In the USA you can also just send in the $70 check made out to Allen Hinkey (428 School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144) and pay the remainder when you arrive in August. Raphael Vowles is collecting for Europe. Total cost for the weekend, including food:
a) For semi-private room- 125 dollars, 81 pounds, 94 euros; b) for dormitory or camping 95 dollars, 62 pounds, 72 euros; c) for single day (no overnight): 20 dollars, age 13 and up; d) for children: 65 dollars, 42 pounds, 49 euros; e) for one day, or ½ day (if you live close): $20.
If anyone wants to contribute to those who need financial assistance to attend, donations are very welcome. For those who want to stay on longer, quite a few of us will stay over Sunday night as well, so that is definitely an option. And there is plenty to do or see in this part of "New England" should you want to explore before or after the weekend. We are close to the ocean, to Cape Cod, as well as to the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont to the north. Click on this link for more information:
I am pleased that there will be some "new" attendees this year. Maybe even some recent younger leavers! Thanks to the posting on Facebook, of course! (Thanks, Gillian Burleson!) Many thanks to those of you who have already sent in an initial deposit to Allen Hinkey or Raphael Vowles. If possible, please send in your initial deposit if you are planning to attend. That's $70 in the USA, 45 pounds in the UK, and 52.50 euros.
Contact Maeve Whitty, if you want to come earlier, or want to connect with other "exes" before or after the weekend. And contact any one of us if you are undecided or still have questions. Please feel free to pass on this information to those who may not receive the newsletter but may want to come. Maeve Whitty: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 617-230-3219; Virginia Loewenthal: email@example.com; Allen Hinkey: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Vol. XXV No 1 July2013
Letter to the Editors
Good Pieces and Better Ones
Elisabeth Bohlken in a Hummer Mail, February 15 th 2013 I just managed to print out the December KIT letter a few days ago. I thought I could read it on the computer, but my eyes will not do that, so now I have printed it out and read it in bed before going to sleep. As always there are good pieces and better ones. I liked the memory of Eileen Goodwin from Maeve. There is much about a person we get to know during a lifetime, and much that will remain a mystery. Communal Ripples by Ruth is really good. Here again there is so much I did not know, and was eager to hear. I like the memories from Ruth about the first positive reactions she and many Hutterites felt when first in contact with the people from the Bruderhof. Yes, there was a ”swing in the air” felt throughout Primavera and Wheathill when contact was made with the Hutterites, as well as with so many young people who joined the Bruderhof. at that time. We felt happy and free in the early 1950s. We wanted to embrace the world with ”our love,” find a new basis for peace and unity, song and laughter as well as a deep commitment to follow Jesus. I was baptized 1954 and I was completely serious about this. Thank you Ruth! George Gurganus letter was lovely to read as well. Good to hear that he is interested in Amanda's past –where his wife came from. I have many memories of her father Jop – the baker – and Rose-Mary her mother, later called Ivy, because there was another Rosemarie on the Bruderhof. Ivy was French, and a very intelligent woman. She told us the most fascinating stories when she was on evening watch in the big Isla Hallen. All the children would sit in one corner with her on someone's bed to listen to her stories and French songs. I remember when Amanda was born, and Jop was so overcome with joy that he thr ew his Tiroler hat into the air and called out to everyone who wanted to hear, “I am the father of a beautiful baby daughter!” We children were allowed into the bakery to scratch together some crumbs from freshly baked bread! Yes, we were even given the last and the first piece of a loaf of bread! This was more special than finest cream tart today! We did not have much, so little things like that were very special. This must have been in the Paraguayan Fall (July or August) 1942, when all the Bruderhof people lived together in Isla Margarita in different Hallen those were our first buildings for shelter from rain and wind. They were nothing more than a thatched roof on poles from the trees in the jungle. They had no walls, no privacy. Men and women hurdled together with their children for safety from the wild animals, the wind and the rains to give all of us a well deserved sleep. The bakery was a little brick house, which was also used at night to lock up screaming babies, which were a disturbance to the many people sleeping together in a very small place. Poor mothers, the nurses were very strict at the time and babies needed to learn to sleep through the night, like adults would or scream their little heads off! A simple matter of education: to let the baby know who the boss is in this new world. Poor mothers! I think it is important that more and more of us write something about our lives after the Bruderhof. Some of us have exhausted their memories I think, so it is good to hear new voices of others, who started out as we did. What they believed, if they found another person to live with and trust! Something about the experiences in a world they did not know and the stupid pitfalls we found ourselves in when trusting the wrong people 100 per cent, because they seemed so nice; about having children and what not to do in raising them and what we could and can give
them from our different and exotic life in the jungle of South America. There is so much to write about! I see that Konrad signs off as Dr. Konrad Klüver, Bamberg. Did he study after he came from Paraguay, sometime during the middle of the 1990ties? He left Paraguay with his Paraguayan wife and four or five children, so I wonder how his life started in Germany and what he is doing at the moment.
“We Want Peace” – No Drones!
By Joan Nicholson Recently the KIT editor and others received the following submission for KIT from Joan Nicholson, who was responding in part to an invitation from Ruth Baer Lambach to KIT readers to give accounts of some of their activities, showing “ripples” into their subsequent lives of their earlier Bruderhof experiences. Some wondered what Joan's connection to the Bruderhof had been, and how her message related to the KIT Newsletter’s “Keep in Touch” focus. These questions are easily answered: Joan came to Oaklake just a few months after its founding in 1957, and remained with the Bruderhof for several years. She is known to many leavers, both as a friend and as a “Friend.” She has attended some Friendly Crossways gatherings. Further, in her post-Bruderhof life she has exemplified through her continuing non-violent peace activism some of the strong anti-war motivations that characterized the Bruderhof’s early decades, as well as her pre- and post-Bruderhof Quaker roots. Her account is a recent personal and heartfelt response to an issue, and her own direct involvement in it, which is likely to resonate with a number of KIT folks, and not only those in the USA. As such, we view it as an appropriate contribution. In presenting Joan's message, we also encourage other KIT folks to submit suitable-length personal accounts of how they have incorporated what they consider the more valuable lessons they took from the Bruderhof into their subsequent lives, creating interesting ripples, large and small. Don’t hide your light under that proverbial bushel basket! (TJ) Last fall I was in Pakistan with a delegation to hear from people whose family members had been killed by US drones. More than 3,000 people, including many children, had been murdered. During just one day of our visit, eighteen people were killed. As we met with groups and individuals, we heard not only about the strikes, but about the pervasive terror in the targeted region because of the constant presence of drones; the people are afraid to gather for any purpose. The US Charge des Affaires maintained that very few “civilians” had been killed, and he claimed not to know of the many multiple strikes against rescuers. The labels “militant” and “civilian” used by the US Government and the media give the false impression that there are legitimate targets. The CIA considers all men in the targeted region to be legitimate targets. We travelled with Imran Khan’s peace convoy to the targeted region. There was a threat (origin unknown), and because we wanted to be sure our delegation would not endanger the others, we stopped short of the destination. A rally was held at which the large crowd called out repeatedly: “Welcome to you. We want peace.” Further on, the rest of the convoy held a rally without i ncident. One day we held a fast in an Islamabad market square to remember the children who had been killed by drones. The US State Department. had issued a warning that US citizens would be in danger if they went to Pakistan. We were warmly welcomed and, in spite of the poverty, received generous hospitality. People understood that we believe their lives are sa-
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cred and that we will continue to work for an end to the US drone warfare. I wrote about the trip and gave visual presentations to several groups in DC on Inauguration day. I joined a peace march (with replica drones) and a ‘die-in’. In February, I was arrested with others in a Congressional confirmation hearing for John Brennan
to be CIA director, because of his involvement with the killer drone and torture policies. Several of us will have a trial in August. Fortunately, I live near a highway where I can vigil during rush hours each weekday. I believe there is an urgent need to speak out while we can. Greetings to all!
In May 2013 my niece Claire, Eunice’s daughter married Frazer Ma clntosh. She has known Frazer for quite some time. He is from Yorkshire, but is very proud of his Scottish Grandfather, so by request, most of the males in his family attended in kilts. This made the marriage all the more colourful and festive. The ceremony took place in a small chapel near their home, and the reception afterwards was held in a beautifully decorated and laid out marquee in the grounds of a nearby meeting place. – Linda Lord Jackson.
Celebrating Our Fiftieth Anniversaryin an Orchid Garden
By Elisabeth Bohlken-Zumpe A big “thank you” to all who sent messages, cards or who telephoned for our fiftieth wedding anniversary, June 19th, 2013! We celebrated on June 22nd in a large Orchid garden, with many other tropical flowers, Butterflies and Loros. We had invited Hans cousins, most of whom we had spent lovely family-reunionweekends with during many years at our house on the island Ameland. We were seventy family members including my brother Kilian and Lorna from London and Hanna’s partner, Kee s with his new lady friend. Unlike the family reunions in Ameland, we were together just for a day. Ameland always meant cooking and sleeping places for everyone. We had lots of tents in the attic but they needed setting up, all in all a lot of work. On Sunday night our guests would all need to leave on the 5.30pm ferry to the mainland and Hans and I – often Hanna as well – cleaned up. This time we did nothing (but pay) and we all enjoyed that very much indeed. Some of you might remember Bram and Betty Burger from Wheathill, as well as Anneke Burger Krienen, who came from Boston on Friday night and returned home last Wednesday. Kilian and Lorna also stayed until Wednesday. It was so lovely to see Anneke. She was on the Sinntalbruderhof where Hans and I met for the first time, this resulting me being sent away, and Hans back to Holland, all because when Hans asked for the novitiate he said:”that he was impressed by the life and by Bette”. Now fifty-four years later we had a good laugh about this. We had a truly lovely day. First a coffee reception from 10:00 to 11:00am, then everyone went out to the gardens in little groups or stayed on the terrace talking to long lost family members, which was nice. One cousin and her husband came from France, another couple from Switzerland, one from Australia. From 1:00 to 3:00pm we had lunch together and much talking until 5:00pm.
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Kilian and Lorna came to Drachten with us, but I was completely kaputt, and went to bed straight away. We had good days together; Kilian is a lovely brother to have. He enjoyed drinking mate with a real bombillia, sent to me by Philip a while ago. Thank you Phil! Kilian took half of the mate with him, as he said the Paraguayan herb is by far the best. Actually I just feel very thankful that the Bruderhof was not able to destroy or lives. We had four lovely children and four grandchildren, and after fifty years we are as happy as when I came to Holland for the first time in 1963. It was a huge change coming from New York City, where I was offered a good job at St. Clares Hospital to the little village of Oosterwolde which I could not even find on the map. I could not speak a word of Dutch, nor did I know Dutch food and cooking, nor the usual rituals. But we managed, and now I guess we are old – although we do not really feel old! We have been through tough times with the sickness and the death of our Hanna, but we have what many people do not have – love and understanding, learning to listen more than do, and just being happy to still be together.
Emil (Migg) Fischli – 27th June 1916 to 7th January 2013
By Susanna Alves Born in Bergdörfli in Zurich Wollishofen to his parents Emil and Marie, he was the youngest of their five children. He grew up in a secure environment, in touch with nature, near meadows and forests and among a number of farm animals. During his adolescence he was strongly influenced by the German Jugendbewegung (Youth Movement) and the spiritual restlessness that reigned in Europe after the First World War. His parents’ longstanding search to lend more meaning to their life – with a greater Christian expression – impressed itself strongly on him, and when they took him along to Germany to visit a small Christian community with a new life form – community of goods – it was he, then eighteen years old, who decided to join. His parents returned to Switzerland while he stayed behind in the Bruderhof, as this community called itself. He joined in enthusiastically, helping to build their new world of legitimate, true Christendom, of peace, of brotherly love, where all goods and belongings were shared. They took their guiding lines mostly from the Sermon of the Mount, but the Bruderhof also had a connection with Hutterian communities that had lived already for centuries in community of goods, mainly in Canada, where they enjoyed religious freedom. He had other reasons too for his enthusiastic participation. A young woman from Czechoslovakia had recently joined the Bruderhof, and he liked her a lot. Her name was Hilde Hundhammer. Soon they got engaged. They were both twenty years old. When Hitler rose to power it became ever more difficult for the Bruderhof community, as they didn’t accept what the Nazi regime preached and demanded. As deeply religious pacifists they wouldn’t be tolerated much longer, and in the second half of the Thirties they had to flee Germany, some of them in the secrecy of a dark night. Hilde was sent to Liechtenstein where she joined an already existing small Bruderhof group, and Migg to England. In Switzerland, Migg had begun an apprenticeship as mechanic, although he never finished it, but his knowledge sufficed for him to handle agricultural machinery. As he also had experience with farm animals, he was put to work as a farmhand. Soon Hilde followed Migg to England, and there, in the Cotswold-Bruderhof, they wed. In October 1937 their first child was born, a boy, Josef, or Seppel. Two years later followed a daughter, Susanna, and another eighteen months and Gottlieb further enlarged the little family. In the meantime, the Second World War had broken out and the community – half of whose members were German nationals – suffered more and more often the enmity of their neighbours who believed that among them hid members of the so-called Fifth Column. The country’s authorities suggested that for the sake of their security they should either allow their German members to be sent to a prisoner of war camp on the Isle of Man, or, if that were unacceptable, to leave England entirely. They decided to emigrate. It was 1940. Their attempts to be accepted by Canada and USA, among others, had failed. The only country that by now was still prepared to willingly receive this community group – men, women and children originating from various European countries – and to grant them freedom of religion, accepting their pacifist stance, was Paraguay, the country in the heart of the South American continent. Three ships of the Star-Line were chartered and in short succession the Bruderhofers left England. In Paraguay, they were
KIT Accounts - Financial Year 2012-2013
By Raphael Vowles Three KIT Newsletters were produced for April, September and December 2012; sent to 200 subscribers. A big Thank You goes to all the KIT Volunteers and Contributors who keep the Newsletter going. Subscription by email has reached 33% this year after steady growth from 25% in 2009. Perhaps you too could consider subscribing by email thus saving paper, postage and handling overheads. See the last page of this Newsletter. Total Income was £1,230. Expenses were £683. The Account Balance carried forward was £1,155 (€1,412EUR $1,867USD) Twenty five Picture CD’s were sold from EuroKIT held 23 Jul-2012 at Lower Shaw Farm, Swindon UK. The CD’s were produced by volunteers and the income from their sale covered the cost of production. Detailed Accounts: 31-Dec-2012 in British Pounds Income £1,228.51 GBP Contributions Expenses -£683.38 GBP Newsletter £1,154.55 GBP Balance C/Fwd Contributions €155 EUR £126.70 GBP RestOfWorld(7) £547 GBP £547.00 GBP UK(26) $897 USD £554.81 GBP USA(20) £1,228.51 GBP (53) Newsletter $411.72 USD -£254.65 GBP KIT USA £428.73 GBP -£428.73 GBP KIT UK -£683.38 GBP The income from subscriptions/contributions was used entirely for producing and mailing the KIT Newsletter. The 53 persons that did contribute this year have been more than generous. I would of course encourage everyone to continue supporting us by generously contributing each year. Your contributions are appreciated. “BRUDERHOF ESCAPE” BOOKS by Elisabeth BohlkenZumpe, Miriam Arnold Holmes, and Nadine Moonje Pleil are all still available. Please contact: Margot Purcell, 2095 South Emmas Lane, La Porte, IN 46350 USA, tel: 001 219 324 8068, email@example.com
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given hospitality for a while by the Mennonites in the Chaco. Later they found land in the eastern part of the country, the Estancia Primavera, which was to finally become their home. Those first years were tough. They had to start right from the bottom and labour and build. But their religious zeal, their enthusiasm and the deep conviction regarding their principles of community life – of these mostly still young adults – helped them survive these hard times. During the first years, three settlements – called ‘Hof’ – were founded in Primavera: Loma Hoby, Isla Margarita and Ibaté. Each Hof contained roughly 200 souls. In those years, Migg and Hilde added another six children to their family: Benjamin, David, Regula, Hans, Else-Marie and Paul. Theirs was a busy life. In the subtropical climate they had to learn how to control the exuberant growth of nature. They planted and harvested, made preserves, they produced nearly everything themselves. They held everything in common: Kitchen, laundry, bakery, sawmill, turning shop, vegetable gardens and orchards, cow-stall, saddlery and the cobbler’s. The children’s departments were called Baby-house, Toddler-house, Kindergarten and School Wood. There was a sewing room, and the housemother’s store room where bales of cloth o r knitting yarns, buttons and much more were kept. They built a hospital in which they also tended to the Paraguayans of the surrounding area, all free of charge, as there was great poverty far and wide. Hilde was assigned to the sewing room, while Migg was mostly to be found working at the sawmill, with its gigantic locomotive and cauldron that produced their electricity during the day. We children visited him often there, and whenever the yawning, fiery gullet that gobbled up so much firewood blasted its hellish breath in our direction, we’d retreat fast. During and after the Second World War, more and more people wanted to join the Bruderhof. In 1943, a new settlement had been founded in England, to be able to accommodate the many seriously searching visitors. In Germany too great interest in the Bruderhof movement had started again, and another Hof was born: the Sinntal-Bruderhof. In 1956, Migg and Hilde were sent there for a year, to help with the building up of this Hof. Their children remained in Primavera, in the care of the couple Nils and Dora Wingard.
The Fischli family on vacation at the Tapiracuay River 1958. From left: Hans, Else-Marie, Hilde, Regula, Seppel, Migg, Paul, David, Benjamin, Gottlieb, Susanna. (Private photo.)
Also in the United States a number of new Bruderhof settlements were founded. They built one even in Uruguay. Members were often exchanged between Hofs, also on an intercontinental basis. Since 1959, Migg and Hilde and their six youngest children lived in El Arado, a small Bruderhof near Montevideo, Uruguay. But in 1960 the Brotherhood found that there were more urgent needs
in Europe and North America, and they decided to close down both Loma Hoby and El Arado. It triggered the emigration of a large number of families, mainly to England and Germany. Among them were Migg and Hilde with their six youngest, who found a new home in the Sinntal-Bruderhof in Germany. In the meantime, a power play – mainly among the leaders of the various community settlements worldwide – that had begun years earlier, became ever more acute, with a newly strong American influence and a sort of anti-South-America tendency. The result was that in 1961-1962 the two remaining Hofs in Primavera – Isla Margarita and Ibaté – were closed down too, and sold off. Understandably, this provoked extraordinary conflicts. Many members were absolutely against allowing their work of a lifetime to be destroyed like this. Others had enormous doubts if this was the right way to go. A kind of Brotherhood-nucleus emerged that excluded those members who were unwilling or who refused to give up Primavera. Others, among them families with large numbers of children, left the Bruderhof of their own decision. Those families who remained were distributed among the various Hofs in the United States, England or Germany. Migg and Hilde’s two eldest, Seppel and Gottlieb, remained in Primavera to help with the processes of closing down and handing over the sold Hofs. Susanna had already left the Bruderhof in early 1960 and was working in Mercedes, Uruguay at the time. Those were critical times. Migg and Hilde were affected too. But they knew that life in community was their goal and purpose. As young adults they had made a vow, and it was inconceivable to them to break that promise. Yet it appeared that this wasn’t enough. In 1961 they were told to leave the Sinntal-Bruderhof – and with it the community – on a definitive basis. There was never an explanation as to what had triggered this devastating decision by their fellow Brothers and Sisters or those in a leading position. Deeply disappointed and inwardly broken they found refuge in Switzerland, in the Schlehstud in Meilen, the house of Migg’s brother Hans, where their mother also lived. Hans helped Migg to find a job, and slowly the family found its feet in this new, unknown world: the children went to school, Hilde did the housework and cooked for her small gang – all activities quite unknown to her for the last decades in this reduced scale. A year later the family rented an apartment downtown in Meilen. But Migg’s salary didn’t go far enough. The children helped with newspaper rounds, handing in the earned money. They saved wherever possible. But it was simply not enough. So Hans took over the rent of their flat, until he decided that it was much more sensible for them to return to the Schlehstud. In 1965 they moved from the Schlehstud to Oberrieden. The family then consisted of Migg and Hilde with Benjamin, David, Hans, Regula, Elsie and Paul. Seppel and Gottlieb had by now moved to Bruderhofs in USA and England, while Susanna already lived in Brazil since the end of 1960, to where later her siblings Regula and Benjamin followed. Migg found a job at the Feller company in Horgen. The family had rented an apartment in a brand new building of fourteen flats. To warrant his financial independence, Migg also took the janitor’s job of that apartment block. Hilde did part of this work during the day, while Migg did the rest in the evenings and on weekends. This additional job made it possible for them to be directly in touch with the new residents who one by one began moving in. Migg thoroughly enjoyed it. He quickly made friends with everybody. Here, he found a task with his fellow human beings that gave him a sense of fulfilment. He constantly widened his circle of acquaintances and offered everybody, young and old, his friendship, his patience and his happiness, in addition to
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his ear for those who wanted to moan, or those who simply liked to chat or have a laugh. Later, he joined the Samaritans in Oberrieden. It was in those years that Hilde received financial compensation for war damage, from Germany, as well as a lifelong monthly pension. This enabled them to finally breathe a little easier and not to put every left over penny in their piggy-bank. They could now take occasional vacations, visiting Hilde’s relatives in Ge rmany or England. They had also connected with former Bruderhof members who like them had been excluded, and their circle of friends widened constantly and made good much of what had been so painfully taken away from them: the peaceful and enriching communication with like-minded people. An active exchange of correspondence developed, and ever more frequently, former Bruderhofers came to visit and stay. In 1966, Hilde was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Difficult months followed for Migg and the family. As Hilde had suffered from a heart problem and its consequences since she was fourteen, her health had never been very robust. Susanna with little Andréa, six months old, and Regula, who was living with Susanna in Brazil, travelled to Oberrieden to stay for some months, taking charge of the household and ensuring that Hilde, when at home between her hospital stays and radiotherapy sessions, enjoyed rest and proper care. Hilde recovered, although the process was long and extensive. But five years later she was told that she was totally cancer free again. Sadly, the side effects of her radiotherapy had been damaging, and troubled her for the rest of her life. When Migg and Hilde married in 1937, in Cotswold, England, the small community was far too poor to be able to afford them the luxury of wedding rings. In 1977, for their fortieth wedding anniversary, they decided to make up for this. Hilde sewed herself a nice wedding dress, as she called it, Migg got a new shirt, trousers and jacket – but please no tie! – and then they exchanged rings and thus closed a circle of great symbolism and significance to them. In 1978, Migg, with the support of his employers at Feller, was able to go to Guatemala for six months with the Swiss Red Cross and its organisation of assistance after natural catastrophes (Schweizerische Katastrophenhilfe). There had been a disastrous earthquake. He helped rebuild secure family homes. Towards the end of that period Hilde joined him in Guatemala for a brief vacation and to give them a chance to get to know somewhat better this country with its colourful culture and costumes. They called it their second honeymoon. In the meantime, their four youngest children had long since flown the nest and were mostly already married. But Migg and Hilde remained in the apartment in Oberrieden, and didn’t give up the janitor’s job either, because through it they could keep their close connection with their fellow residents. Then too, the large apartment with its three bedrooms offered a safe haven to their children if they wanted to visit or even stay a little longer. Also, from 1966, their first grandchildren had begun to appear, with numbers worldwide increasing slowly, or sometimes less slowly. In the much anticipated year of 1981 Migg could finally give up his job and draw a monthly pension. For years he had dreamt of returning to South America, because that continent with its different people, its great hospitality, joy of living and boisterous nature had taken a deep and lasting hold on him. Hilde was not very enthusiastic, as the tropical heat caused her problems, especially with her heart. But the idea was that Migg and Hilde would at first visit for six months with their children in South America, to acclimatise somewhat and get accustomed, in order to then decide and make their plans. David lived in Paraguay – in
the same area in which years earlier the Primavera Bruderhof had been – with his wife Ortencia and three children, Benjamin and Margot and their four children lived in Santa Rosa, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and Susanna with Andréa in Porto Alegre. Regula was by now in Campinas, São Paulo, where Roger and Norah Allain, ex-Bruderhofers and good friends, had a small farm or chacra nearby, and whereto they had invited Migg and Hilde. All four areas were to be explored first, in order to then take further action. In early November of 1981, Migg and Hilde arrived in Porto Alegre. They stayed with Susanna. Hilde was very frail, having just suffered a severe bout of pneumonia shortly before travelling. She looked pale and transparent when they arrived at the local airport. But within a week she began to show a little colour and feel slightly more energetic, and after a further week one could already find her getting her hands dirty in the soil of Susanna’s flowerbeds, and feeling happy and well in the fresh air and sunshine. Then came the big blow: on 18th November 1981, on the fifteenth day of their visit in Porto Alegre, Hilde died in the late afternoon. The day before, she had complained of severe pains; her heart was in a bad state. The doctor wanted to first take care of the underlying reasons for her pains and then concentrate on her heart. He never got that far. A day later she quietly fell asleep, for ever. It was a bitter blow. She and Migg had been together for 44 years, and just now when his great dream of a new, better future was to begin, she disappeared forever. Had she accompanied him here, so he would not give up on his dream and could fulfill it, even if lastly she wouldn’t be present physically? After the burial, Migg went to visit Benjamin in Santa Rosa for a few weeks, then David in Paraguay. At the end of January 1982 he flew back to Switzerland. His South American dream was over. South America had robbed him of his companion. He decided to remain in Switzerland. He did still return to Brazil and Paraguay a few times, visiting with children and grandchildren and various friends from the past, but he never again mentioned emigration plans. He made his new life in Oberrieden. A few years later he renewed his contact to an erstwhile school friend, Elsi Schnetzler, with whom he had been in love as a fifteen-year old. She too had recently widowed. A friendship began which developed into love. They spent weekends together, often in a small holiday home in Gros near Einsiedeln, sometimes in Oberrieden or at Elsi’s in Zurich. She was his dear friend and a constant companion in most of his projects, especially when it came to travelling, and this they did often. He had also long ago given up his janitor’s job and was therefore quite free to follow his own plans. In 1997 he wrote his memoirs – by hand – about his childhood, youth and the years in the Bruderhof. Elsi helped him, made sure he didn’t repeat himself, and patiently copied page by page on her typewriter. In 1983, David had returned on his own to Switzerland, but only to work there and send his earnings to his wife in Paraguay. He lived at Migg’s. So now Migg had company whenever he wasn’t with Elsi. Through it, he also acquired a new task: he cooked and did the washing. David took care of the daily washing-up and at weekends the cleaning of the apartment. It was a sensible arrangement which worked well and lasted for nearly two decades. Alas, the inevitability of our human impermanence became evident again. In January 2001, David succumbed to leukemia. It must have been hard for Migg to bury his son. The next blow followed on 1st November 2005 when Migg’s companion Elsi died. In July 2006, his son Hans suffered a serious motorbike ac-
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Some Sayings of Migg Fischli – as collected by his Daughter-In-Law
Das grösste Geschenk ist das Leben selbst, weil es jeden Tag Unvorgesehenes hervorbringt. The greatest gift is Life itself, as each day it produces things unforeseen. Wissenschaftler haben ein Patent erfunden; sie sagen, es gibt ein großes schwarzes Loch. Und da kann man alles rein schmeißen, mit dem man nicht fertig wird, und so mache ich das auch. Ich werde mit unheimlich vielen Sachen nicht fertig und muss es ins große Loch schmeißen. Das große Loch ist allwissend und kann alles schlucken und weiß für alles eine Antwort. Scientists have invented a patent; they say there exists a large black hole. And into it one can throw everything with which one can't cope, so that's what I do. There is a tremendous amount of things I can't cope with and have to throw into the big hole. The big hole is omniscient and can swallow everything and has an answer to everything. Der Mensch ist ein Geschöpf Gottes, unvollkommen. Man is God's creation, incomplete. Die Liebe ist unendlich und wirkt über Generationen hinweg. Love is infinite and works throughout generations. Jeden Morgen geht die Sonne auf und ich freue mich daran. So geht das Leben immer weiter. The sun rises every morning, which is a joy. That's how life continues. Ich habe über die Ewigkeit nachgedacht und gemerkt, dass es nicht einfach eine graue Masse ist, wie ich immer dachte, sondern ein Anfang. Und ich bin immer für Anfänge, für das Neue. Das Alte kann man nicht mehr ändern, das Neue kann man machen! I have thought about eternity and realised that it isn't merely a grey mass, as I had always thought, but a beginning. And I am always for beginnings, for the new. The old can't be changed, the new can be created! Translation by Susanna Alves
Migg Fischli in Oberrieden, Oct. 2004
(Photo: Erdmuthe Arnold)
cident in the Alps, which cost him his life. And in January 2010 Migg’s daughter Elsie lost her battle against lung cancer. Far too fast the circle of those closest to Migg had shrunk. Now he found himself nearly alone. Of his four children who with their families had lived in and around Zurich, only Paul remained. Regula was still in Brazil, Susanna had settled in Argentina, Benjamin and family were in Salt Lake City, USA, and Gottlieb and Seppel still in Bruderhofs sometimes here, sometimes there. The ex-Bruderhof friends of Migg’s generation had also begun to disappear one by one. But to his great joy, his circle of contacts widened again with their sons and daughters. More and more often he’d get letters from them, telephone calls, and even visits, and was invited to visit them also from time to time. As Migg’s eyesight and hearing were failing and he progre ssively heard and saw less and less, his last years had become difficult and cumbersome. He got help in his home, nice women from the Oberrieden Spitex organisation came in, and Claudia Fehr, regularly once a week, joined him as an Oberrieden volunteer to read him his letters and whatever else needed a pair of good eyes. But lastly it was not enough for his independent and free-flying spirit. He felt it was enough now, he had lived his life to the full, and it was time for him to go. But, in his own words, God kept passing by his door without knocking. Had God maybe forgotten him? Then he’d laugh and say: There must be something that still remains for me to do. Well, God did finally show that Migg hadn’t been forgotten, after all. Emil, Migg: – our father, grandfather, great-grandfather – he is gone now, as he had so dearly wished over many months. He was an inspiration to many. Throughout his life he kept his guiding principle: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” In our younger years, a family friend once remarked that she experienced him like a rock, around whom we, his children, rose and fell like waves. She was right. He was the mainstay, the security, the consequence of his faith and his goodness. Yes, he never gave up his belief in that which is good in all human beings; and he saw it too, everywhere, all the time, in everybody, and that drew people towards him. He was full of joy because he lived in peace with himself. And that is how he went from us. We are proud indeed that this special human being is and was our father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
For interested readers: Migg’s memoirs, mentioned in the obituary, were published in the KIT Newsletter: A) 1916-1933, KIT Vol XII No 11 Nov 2000. B) 1934-1939 Vol XIII No 1 Jan 2001. C) 1939-1946 or longer – published as Part 1, KIT Vol XI, No 3 March 1999, page 9 ff. D) 1952-1961, KIT Vol XI, No 4 April 1999.
Remembering Lienhard Gneiting
By William (aka Ingmar) Bridgwater On January 19th, 2013 Lienhard Gneiting died of lung cancer in Paraguay. He was born to Gretel and Alfred Gneiting in England during Cotswolds times on August 22nd, 1939. It is sad to hear that another friend, called Lino among friends, has gone, and I would like to share some fond memories: When I left Primavera, I went to Rosario and proceeded by riverboat to Estancia 25 to look for work. To my surprise Lino was there. We shared a small hut on the banks of the Paraguay river. To wash we had to take a dip in the river. Great entertainment for the local girls who were not used to watch gringos!
KIT. The above obituary by Susanna Alves was read at the funeral ceremony on February 1st in Oberrieden. The second last paragraph truly is shared by all who knew this wonderful man. Rest in peace – dear Migg; thanks for your friendship and the many helpful information!
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Fondly Remembering August Pleil
Miriam Holmes to Hummer, April 13th 2013: Nadine asked me to tell you that her August died peacefully last evening, in the presence of people who loved and cherished him. August was born August 3rd, 1926 in the town of Chabut, Argentina, the oldest of Otto and Dora Pleil’s nine children. When he was one year old, the family moved to Paraguay because Dora had relatives there. They lived near San Pedro. The Pleils joined the Bruderhof in Primavera in 1946. Otto had been a soldier in the First World War where he fought in France. He later learned that Adolf Braun and Victor Crawley were soldiers nearby. Otto was impressed with the Bruderhof’s pacifism. He also thought his children would benefit by Primavera’s schooling. August and Nadine, along with August’s sister Juanita and their eight children left the Bruderhof on November 22nd, 1980.They thrived as a family in Washington, Pennsylvania, and August was much loved in town. Nadine and August celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last year [see the December KIT Newsletter 2012]. August will be missed terribly by his family and many friends who are all grateful for his life. Phil Hazelton to Hummer, April 13th, 2013: While I had not been able to visit August, I feel the planet is less alive for me without this iconic person sharing it with us. I have so many memories of August and the other beloved Pleils going back to their arrival in Primavera. I became part of the family there, just as they did of ours. Nadine, I am so grateful for the many ways in which you have kept us up with your family over the years, and August always stood right there with you, with his insights, wit and right moral outrage in regard to Bruderhof bullying. Much strength to you and the rest of the Pleil clan. Hans Zimmermann to Hummer, April 13th 2013: I well remember when the Pleils joined the Bruderhof in Primavera. The family moved into the east end of the Lagerhaus opposite the saw mill and workshops. Carlos (Carlito) became a good friend of mine. His brother August was his favorite brother and he would tell me how August would take him through the forests surrounding their chacra to check all the traps they had set. Carlito made this wide sweeping motion towards the woods in the direction of Riveros Cué indicating the distances they had to cover. In those years the woods still came down to the campo and one could hear the sound of the wildlife: Caí monkeys, Howler monkeys, and all the mysterious bird songs we could hear. I imagined myself going along on those walks through the jungle. I always respected his parents, Otto and Dora and the sincerity of their two oldest sons, August and Hermann. As I think about August, I remember he did the translation from German at mealtimes and meetings into Guaraní for our Paraguayan visitors
Another memory from 1956 on Primavera territory: William and Lino (front) on a ride near the Tapiracuay river with their beloved horses. (Private photo.)
Our job was to clean greasy old tractor parts with kerosene. After a few days of that we’d had enough and quit. The following night we sat on a sandbank waiting for the riverboat. When it showed up we signalled with a flashlight. The vessel stopped midstream and sent a rowing boat to pick us up. We disembarked in Rosario and stayed with Johannes Wirtz. Our plan was to proceed north and to find work in the Concepcion area. When Ian Cocksedge unexpectedly arrived, we decided to split up, Lino went to join his brother in Carmen del Parana, and Ian and I proceeded up north. Next time I met Lino was shortly before my trip to Europe. I had been called back to Primavera prior to departure. Lino, who now was working on a ranch about two days horseback ride away, had come to say goodbye to his parents. I was impressed when he proudly showed me, and let me test, his 38 caliber revolver. When it was time for him to leave, Hans Zimmermann and I accompanied him on horseback, a memorable ride. In later years I met Lino several times in Carmen del Parana, where he lived with wife and family. Lino was a kind and friendly person, he had developed a keen interest in botany and proudly showed everyone his flowers, especially the orchids.
Outside Lino’s house in Carmen del Paraná 2011 – from left: Clementina Jaime, Lienhard Gneiting, William Bridgwater, Lino’s wife and Michael Gneiting. (Photo: William Bridgwater)
The last time we met was in 2011 when we spent a couple of hours chatting and drinking tereré in his garden. I will always treasure the memories of my friend Lino, May he rest in Peace.
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Vol. XXV No 1 July2013
and members. Humorous situations would occur as the Guaraní language has no words for certain things. One of them was, when Moses told the children of Israel to get moving out of Egypt. August's translation into Guaraní was: „Cha há catú – Kinder Israel, und sie machten sich auf die Beine“. We kids looked up to August and Hermann as they were able to teach us so much about the Paraguayan plants and animals. I will forever fondly remember August. Nadine, you and your children can be grateful to have had him as a husband and father. With Hanna’s and my sincere sympathy. Ramon Sender to Hummer, April 14th, 2013: Dearest Nadine: We had the pleasure of meeting August – along with several of your children at the time when I was editing your book with you, and Judy and I visited your home. I always saw August as a role model with his amazing ability to repair things and make do with whatever was at hand to complete a job. Also he was a truly loving dad to his children and a husband to you. He always could come up with a humorous and wry viewpoint on the topic at hand – a very unique and insightful individual! I would say to him, “A well-wrought life, August! We will miss you! Enjoy whatever it is that awaits us all!” Judy and I send much love and condolences to you, Nadine, and to your family. Mike LeBlanc to Hummer, April 16th 2013: Nadine, My heart fell reading of August's passing. August's quiet ways and quick wit will remain indelibly in my memory, and the love he displayed for all those that he came in contact with will stay in my heart. August leaves a legacy of love, one I hope to emulate. He will be well and truly missed!
Obituary in the local newspaper
Augusto Pleil (August 3, 1926 - April 12, 2013) Augusto Pleil, 86, of Washington, died on Friday, April 12 th, 2013, in the Washington Hospital. He was born on August 3rd, 1926, in Chubut, Argentina, son of Heinrich Otto and Marta Dora Schubert Pleil. He had worked in construction as a carpenter, and attended Free Methodist Church in Washington. Mr. Pleil ran a lawn and garden business on the side, enjoyed nature, gardening and had a deep love for his 8 children. On October 5, 1952, he married Nadine Moonje, who survives. Also surviving are 4 sons, Amadeus (Charlotte) Pleil, of Canada; Alvin Pleil, of San Francisco, CA; Raymond Pleil, of North Carolina; and Franklin (Nicolle) Pleil, of Eighty Four; 4 daughters, Helga (Ted) Chapman, of Clinton; Vijaya (Bill) Milam, of Florida; Andrea (Kerry) DuBac, of Carnegie; and Else (Robert ) Trautwein, of Indianapolis; 6 brothers, 1 sister, and 16 grandchildren. Deceased is a sister, Juanita Pleil. Friends will be received on Monday, from 10 -12 pm., the time of services, in the William G. Neal Funeral Homes, Ltd., 925 ALLISON AVE., Washington, with Rev. Ted Chapman officiating. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm., in the Clinton Wesleyan Church, in Clinton, PA.
Friends joined with the Family
By Margot Purcell A funeral for August was held on Monday, April 15 th in Washington, PA. Most of the children had arrived to see August in his last days. August’s passing came quite suddenly after an une xpected illness and surgery. He was in the hospital for six days surrounded by family, friends and much love. The memorial service was held by Helga’s husband, Ted Chapman, who is the minister of a church in Clinton, PA. We gathered together on a lovely spring day with Nadine and some of her children and grandchildren to remember August. Many friends joined with the family for the memorial. August's sister Elsa and her husband Josh Maendel were there as well. Nadine’s brother, Vijay came for the day from Canada, where he is a busy surgeon. He was happy to see that so many came to support Nadine and her extended family of friends. The family had assembled a slide show of August’s life, places he had lived, his children as they were growing up and the pictures played all the while we were there. It was so nice to see images of him as a boy, then as young man, getting married, and holding his children when they were small; then as an older man in his garden, at his children's weddings and graduations with his wife, Nadine and his brothers and sisters. It was lovely to see some of Victor Crawley’s paintings of Paraguay scattered among the photos. All these pictures brought August back into our circle and brought tears and many a smile too. Music was played, verses read, and memories shared. Clara Arnold, daughter of Lukas Arnold and Linda Stanaway, came from Arizona. She now teaches harp and performs as well. She was unable to bring or find a harp to play, so instead made a video of her playing three tunes. This video was played and was
I know that Nadine and her family appreciated all who were able to come, and also all who have expressed their love in various ways to her. We will miss you dear August.
A Thank You from my Heart
By Nadine Pleil on Hummer, May 9th 2013 I want to thank you all from my heart for all your love. It means a lot to have such a large and extended family. On behalf of my children and grandchildren I send you my love to all who showed how much you care. August touched so many lives in his uncomplicated way of dealing with life and the problems which occur every day. His love was unconditional. Our children benefited from this unconditional love. He was a good father and he loved his eight children deeply. Needless to say he was a loving and good husband. August always told me, “We cannot change the community, if there is to be change, then it will be through God’s interve ntion.” As Muschi already told you, August is the oldest of nine children. He was the only one born in Chubut, Puerto Madryn, Argentina. He grew up with his eight siblings in Rosario Loma, Paraguay. His maternal grandparents were co-founders of the colony Nueva Germania. They went to Paraguay on a sail boat sometime in the 1800s. They had three children with them and had to bury two of them at sea. They then had eight more children. They lost one child in Nueva Germania and so they left to go to San Pedro where they could more easily get medical help. However the main reason why they left Nueva Germania was because of the Nazi influence, and how the Jews were being treated. They never liked Bernhard Förster’s wife, Elisabeth Nietzsche, and would never agree with her. August had to leave school after having only six years of formal schooling. He had to help his father, Otto earn a living for their family. Otto was a teacher, and could therefore not dedicate
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enough time to their Yerba plantation. August in his spare time, which was not very much, built a violin and taught himself to play the violin. Later in the community he built Guitars and two cellos which were used in the community orchestra. He was very talented, and believe it or not, in order to build the cellos, he had to first make all the tools he needed in order to build these instruments. August and his brother, Hermann, also built a row boat which was much used when people went to stay at the river house in Primavera. When Otto and Dora decided to go to the Bruderhof, August had to make a decision. He wanted to go to college and also go to Germany. After a long debate with himself he gave up the idea of college and went to the Bruderhof with his parents. He thought that he had better go with the family as his parents might one day need him. He gave up his dream for the family. August was twenty years old when he joined the community. His youngest brother Artur was three months old. August became a baptized member of the community and dedicated his life to God and the brothers and sisters. He did that for thirty-five years. We got married on the 5th of October 1952. Some of you were at our wedding. Some of you were in first grade and acted in a play, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs. November 22nd, 1980 we got our marching orders and were told we had to leave the community. It was a great shock to us, especially for August, however it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Our family was able to become a family after we had been told to leave. Our children were ours. We made the decisions and when the children were older we made decisions with them. We had many good times and also found out that we had some relatives here in Washington, who were very helpful when we had to make adjustments to a very new way of life. Throughout this time in which the children were growing up, August tried his best to do everything he could so that the children had a good childhood. He dedicated himself to bringing his children up and seeing that they got a good education. Life was not easy, however we had good times as a family and our children all say that they could not have had a better father. August never thought of himself, even when he was very tired he would take time to do something interesting and fun with his children. He lived a long life, a life of dedication. And now I say goodbye to my husband of sixty years. We had sixty good years together. Farewell August, until we meet again.
Celebrating Clara Arnold Berman’s Life
By Nadine Pleil My friend Clara Margarit Arnold Berman passed away February 19, 2013. She was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor in November, 2012. She suffered greatly and now she is at peace. As so many people have asked if I would share my eulogy, I will do so. March 2nd, 2013 we gathered to celebrate Clara Arnold Berman's life. I read the 121st psalm: I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence comes my help.
Clara Arnold Berman 2002 (Photo submitted by Margot Purcell.)
August and Hermann Pleil had built a row boat with which ever so many of us explored the Tapiracuay river in Primavera. Maybe it was this one, rowed by late Albrecht Wiegand round about 1958? (Friedemann’s photo album.)
Clara is Hermann and Liesel Arnold's second child. Their firstborn, a little girl, Angelika, was born July 3 rd, 1938. She died shortly after her birth. Clara was born just over a year later August 18th 1939. I have had the privilege of knowing Clara since she was two years old. A very lively two year old! My husband and I had been married about five months when we were asked to look after the Arnold children. At the time there were seven children: Clara, Agnes, Elisabeth (Lie), Gottfried, Caritas (Carrie), Hermann and Katharina (Katie). Hannah and Franklin had not yet graced us with their presence. Clara was 14 years old and a great help to us in regard to seeing that her siblings did as they were told. At the time Clara told me that she wanted to be a teacher. I thought, "You will be a good teacher." It was quite an experience, being the parents of seven children. We enjoyed the time with the Arnold children and had lots of fun. From that time on Hermann and Liesel told us that we were family. And yes we are family. Clara was 23 years old when she was sent away from the Bruderhof community. She told me that she did not know how to write a check, nor make a phone call from a phone booth, let alone fit into a world so alien to her. She had all odds against her. She had lived such a protected life in the community. I admire Clara for what she achieved in her life. She studied for her GED, got her diploma, put herself through college, became a special education teacher, and got her master’s degree. Clara always thought of others. She loved her students as if they were her own children. She always found little gifts for her students which fascinated them. She did the same for our grandchildren. Clara touched many people’s hearts. When I look around our house I see things Clara gave us to enhance our home.
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When Clara heard that we had been sent away from the community, she said, "Hallelujah!" We reconnected when my family came to Washington PA. We were actually like sisters to each other. We had 32 years together filled with joy and laughter and visits back and forth. Clara came to see us almost every day. She was concerned about us. She would bring us things she thought we would need. One day we talked about love and Clara said," Love consists of the little things we do for each other and the little things we as husband and wife do for each other." I told her about something my husband does for me every day. He brings me a cup of tea and puts it on the little end table, he not only puts the cup down, he turns the cup so that the handle of the cup is facing me, so that I do not have to do that myself. Clara said, "Nadine that is love!" Clara inspired me to write a poem which I titled, "Little Things." I read it at my sister-in-laws funeral service. She brought her husband Marty to see us. We all liked Marty. We felt she wanted our approval, and Marty, I think knew why she had brought him to visit. He had a twinkle in his eyes. As you can imagine, we approved. We got to know Marty well, as he and Clara came to visit us a few times before they got married. I will read "Little Things." I read it for Nita and now I will read it for Clara, as she inspired me to write it Little Things It is the little things which quicken the heart. The little things which make you smile A gesture here, a touch there, It is the little things which count! A kind word, a little smile, A little love, a little child, A little love goes oh so far, It is the little things which count! A mother's smile, a little flower, A puppy small and cute, A kitten, furry, round and small, It is the little things which count! Great riches do not count' It is the little things which count, The little things which bring love and joy. It is a fact: it is the little things which count! * Pastor Tim Linsey officiated at the memorial service for Clara. He read psalm 27 verses 1-4, psalm 23, Romans 10, Eclesiastics 15-55. He also read the obituary and a letter from Connie McLanahan addressed to us, and to all Hermann and Liesel's children. It was a beautiful service and we paid tribute to our dear Clara.
sociable person who was involved with many people, so this must have been reassuring and comforting for her. She was an essential part of your family’s life for the past 32 years, so I am keenly aware of your loss. When we were in our early 20's, Clara and I shared a room in Oak Lake. We were right next to Hermann and Liesel and I often hung out in their living room. It was a comfortable place to be. Liesel loved to listen to classical music which Herman, who was tone deaf, happily tolerated. Herman and Liesel are a couple of unsung heroes who tried, at great cost to themselves, to do what parents are meant to do, which is to protect their children from emotional abuse and other ills. It is remarkable how Hermann and Liesel's children learned from their parents and protected and cared for Clara when she needed it the most. Clara was a fierce advocate and protector of children. She never had any of her own, but she protected and advocated for all the children she knew or cared for. I am thanking all of you, especially you, Nadine, for providing comfort to Clara and for your phone calls to me to let me know what is going on.
Onkel Albert ist gestorben – Uncle Albert has Passed Away
By Erdmuthe Arnold Albert Löffler passed away on March 29th, 2013 in Kitchener, Ontario at the great age of 92. He was born in Latvia to Gustav Löffler and Alice von Lysander. In his last years he resided at Luther Village in Waterloo, but was formerly of New Hamburg, where the Löffler family with three daughters – Gabriele, Anneliese and Andrea – resided on a little farm for many years. Albert was a longtime member and pillar of the Canadian Baltic Immigrant Aid Society. The house of Uncle Albert and his late wife Gertrud (she died four years earlier) was always open to my brothers Ernst, Sam and Dieter and me. He gave us the family home we were denied by the Bruderhof, and always proved to be a real loving family patron. For this I will be always grateful, and I miss him. Uncle Albert’s great hobby was genealogy. He gave me family trees of the Hollander’s and Lysander’s, Arnold’s, Löffler’s . During his last years he also found out more about his father Gustav Löffler, who founded the G. Löffler Buchhandlung und Verlag in Riga, publishing and selling books about Latvia’s local and cultural history. He was highly respected in town – also as an active politician and founder of the elementary German school in nearby Thorensberg. Gustav Löffler died in February 1924 at the age of fifty-two. Albert was only four years old, my mother Gertrud, ten, and the youngest child, Anneliese, just born. I mention this background to better understand my Cousin Elisabeth Bohlken’s memories below. After the Bruderhof years from 1931-1933 Albert returned to Latvia with his mother and youngest sister. Some years later he was recruited as a soldier in World War II, and captured as a war prisoner by the Russians in 1945 in Hungary near Budapest.
A Testament to Clara’s Loving Spirit
Miriam Holmes to Hummer, February 20 th 2013 Dear Nadine and August, I am so sad about losing Clara. For the many years we were in contact, I was impressed again and again with her loving generosity. She was always thinking of others and how she could bring enjoyment. Along with that she was very funny. Every piece of mail I received from her made me laugh. I am relieved that she died. She suffered terribly. The way you and your family as well as Hermann and Liesel’s children stood by her is a testament to Clara’s loving spirit. She never had to spend a day alone in her last months of life. She was a very
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Eight years later he was released from Vorkuta in the north east of Russia. This long and very hard time was traumatic for him. Returning to West-Germany, Albert didn’t feel at home; he emigrated to Canada, where he met his wife Gertrud Schiemann. My Canadian relatives had a good contact with the Brethren Community Farm in Bright,Ontario. I visited the community together with them twice. We took a sightseeing tour all arroundthe hof and the different work departments, and had lovely chats with late Fred Kemp – more than two decades ago. The Löfflers treasured the help of the Brethren brothers who built up their shed for goats and hens. They also did other jobs on their property; if a tall dead tree had to be cut down for instance, etc. They also did the butchering of their hens.
Even today there exist some postcards with Rhönbruderhof motifs drawn by Alice Löffler.
Who was Uncle Albert?
By Elisabeth Bohlken-Zumpe Who was Uncle Albert? He was the brother of Gertrud Löffler Arnold, mother of Erdmuthe, Ernst, Johann, Sam and Dieter Arnold plus children Rosemarie, Franzhard, Lukas and Anneliese Arnold still living on the Bruderhof with their families. Albert’s mother Alice was widowed after World War I and left Latvia with her three children Gertrud, Albert and Anneliese in a poverty stricken post war. Her maiden name was von Lysander and she was related to the von Hollanders, my grandmother family. Both families originated from the city of Riga in Latvia. A family member suggested that she might join him in Corsica, where he owned a small estate. Together they could start a new Christian farming community. I heard from my aunt Gertrud about this wonderful island in the Mediterranean as a child: Subtropical climate with abundant flora, fruit and especially fig and olive-trees. The children were happy there, but I suppose their mother had specific thoughts, convictions and ideas about peace for the world and all mankind. Via family channels she heard about Eberhard and Emmy Arnold's experiment of living as a Christian community in the Rhön. She wrote to them and agreed with their thoughts about a life of brotherhood united in Christian faith. She decided to return to Germany and join. She asked Oma Emmy what to bring with her, such as blankets, household equipment and family supplies. She was told that the Rhönbruderhof was in need of everything! So she packed up all her belongings in suitcases and trunks and arrived at the Bruderhof with literally everything she owned and her three children of seven, eleven and sixteen years of age. This was in December, 1931. The Community was happy and thankful for all her things and the funds Alice Löffler brought with her, and she felt she had found a new cause to live for. She was accepted into the novitiate, and the children soon felt at home with all the other children of their age group which included the Arnold, Braun and Boller families, plus the children in the Kinderheim (children home) Gert, Liesel, Wolfgang, Rudi, Lotti and many more. Mother Alice was an artist, able to make beautiful drawings. She introduced the fine arts of Scherenschnitte (black paper cuttings stuck on white paper) and cutting figures from Galalit, which resembled ivory and looked much like the white plastic of today. The Bruderhof produced this art on a bigger scale and sold it along with the books written by Eberhard Arnold. But the life was not what it had seemed to be. Mother Alice could not bear little lies. She protested when “cover up methods were used”, when faults were found concerning someone in a leadership position, be it in the children’s home or the community at large, in order to conceal the truth about something. There were conflicts, and Alice decided to leave. The oldest daughter –
her big help in every way – decided to stay. I believe she was something like eighteen years old and very artistic like her moth er. Gertrud joined and married Eberhard’s youngest son Hans Hermann several years later. The community had – naturally – used all her money; she was given nothing of the material goods she had brought from Corsica. Alice left at the end of 1933 with nothing but her life and Albert and Anneliese, who mourned having to leave their friends. Later some personal things were sent her by the Bruderhof to her Baltic home land, but she was unable to pay for the tax, so everything they sent was lost as well. Personally I lost touch with my relatives for years and years. 1955 Uncle Hans Hermann and Aunt Gertrud visited me in London, while I was training there. They had come from the States, from Macedonia and the beginning of the Woodcrest Bruderhof. They were asked to make a stop in Europe before returning to Primavera, for an Inter-Hof Conference a year later. They told me they had been able to visit mother Alice in Germany, and were happy that this had been made possible for them, as they knew it would most probably be their very last meeting. Now they were eager to return home to Primavera as they really missed their children and the Primavera community.
Easter time 1955 in Germany: Albert, Anneliese and Alice Löffler enjoyed the visit of daughter Gertrud and Hans-Hermann Arnold. Three weeks later mother Alice died. (Private photo.)
After my father’s death in an air crash in1973, Uncle Albert and Aunt Gertrud (his wife was Gertrud as well) visited us here in Holland while on a visit to Germany and the Netherlands. They were really warm toward us, as though we had been in contact all along. It was funny to meet someone who knew so many of the people I had known in Primavera. Erdmuthe and maybe Franzhard look very similar to Uncle Albert, which was amazing, and made us feel at home with each other at once. Since that time we have been in contact with him, even though it was just off and on; his letters were lively and full of
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memories of Rhönbruderhof men and women, of the second World War, his move to Canada, a visit to Woodcrest for HansHermann’s funeral, of meeting up with old friends and family there, as well as with Balz and MonikaTrümpi in Hyde Park, and naturally about his children and his nephews. He remembered my grandparents well, as well as my parents, and told me many funny little stories about my father. Uncle Albert was a help to his nephews over the years, and a warm contact for us here in Holland. We shall miss him.
I am Thankful for the Big Sister in My Life
Hannah Johnson - Remembering Eileen Goodwin My big sister is there in all my childhood memories. While I could hang on a fence all day and watch lambs or look at the sky in a stream, “to stare as long as sheep or cows”, not Eileen. Sh e was always on the go and tried to imbue me with social concerns. I was impressed. Off down the lane with her red chilblain toes in wooden clogs, she introduced me to Alice Humphries at Cleeton Court where she went to school. We lived at Upper Bromdon. She showed me the Roman Bridge with foxgloves down the stream bank and, at the junction to Silvington, the hayfield with scabious, soft lilac blue summer flowers. We would try to find unusual flowers to take home, for botany was a big hit with Mum and Granny. In autumn we gathered wild rosehips to make cough syrup for winter.
Eileen Goodwin (Photo by Gwenn Haries.)
From left: Eileen's grand-daughter Michelle, daughter Ruth Weaver, and sister Hannah Johnson. (Photo submitted by Maeve Whitty, taken at her sister Helena’s house.)
After some years in Bulstrode where she passed exams and started training as a seamstress, the rest of us Goodwins went to Lower Bromdon. Then Eileen joined the family and went to school in Shrewsbury for secretarial studies. She called Wheathill a DP camp, but I felt at home back in the Clee Hills. I went to school in Ludlow, and our younger brothers in Burwarton. I was sorry to leave Bromdon, Bridgnorth, Shropshire. In the soft wet kiss of dawn, the meadow is misty. Stopping just past the pond I turn back and look at the Swiss Cottage. I walk back past the green pool through sedges dew-cool. My feet are wet. Our girls' room window looks into the back of Bulstrode Park, the dark hemlock trees from North America. I got happy in that springtime, 1963. What a glorious park! I could forget the sorrow of leaving Wheathill with so many flowers to see. “You're not supposed to enjoy living in this house o n the edge of the community”, said Eileen trying to bring me into the social world of the Bruderhof life. I could not get into that bag – too fantastic was the Beauty Path. At the end of summer we ten Goodwins flew to the United States, and then were driven to Oak Lake. Again we saw the hemlock trees with the soft needles (the tree of Pennsylvania). We had some good times then. Eileen didn't get out in the woods as much as I did. One spring day we ran around the lake. She
dunked her head in to cool off. Then she almost died of pneumonia. Miriam Brailey borrowed my bed two weeks nursing her back to life. She liked to whistle, really enjoyed to dance the Israeli circle dances, and loved to sing. She was a Novice, trying to join. Our brother Andrew, younger than she, and older than me graduated from Uniontown High school and went to Florida. Soon after he left my sister was sent away. Then it was my Mum who was sent away. I could not feel right to join. The effort to think for oneself is overwhelming for any of us leaving that upbringing who had not given it personal thought as I had. I was told to have nothing to do with my sister, but we got together from time to time. We had many different arguments about our upbringing – hardly ever agreeing. We didn't argue about gardens, we both simply enjoyed flowers. I am thankful for the big sister in my life who gave me books and many things to inspire me to be involved in - to taste and see. Hannah Johnson, 102 Elm St. Apt B-6, Edgewood, PA 15218
Eileen Goodwin died on the 1st of September 2012. See Maeve Whitty’s report in the December KIT-Newsletter 2012, page 5.
Goodwin family late 1960’s, Oaklake/NMR. Back row: Hannah, Christopher, Herbert, Peter. Front row: David, Johnny, Fred and Margaret. Missing: the two oldest Andrew, Eileen. (Private photo.)
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A Death in Danthonia: Irene Maendel’s Last Days, and Their Aftermath
Background Note by Tim Johnson In March of 2010, while on an extended visit with her husband Jake, Irene Maendel nee Hasenberg passed away, at age 70, at the Australian Danthonia Bruderhof. Those of us who’d known her earlier in life were saddened when we heard of her fatal stroke, and some of us reminisced about her earlier years. Some of her relatives, outside the community, did raise questions during the period between her initial collapse on March 2nd and her death on March 8th, 2010, about her condition and care during this period, but were somewhat reassured by the fact that Danthonia’s resident physician was Irene’s own son, Chris Maendel. A few months later, a letter by a young Bruderhof woman, describing in detail her recollections of those last days, was passed to some of Irene’s “outside” relatives. They were deeply disturbed by the implications that the Bruderhof caregivers had not pursued what would be considered reasonable medical practice, which might have led to at least partial recovery and prolongation of life. They were also shocked to find that some of the information they had earlier been given was simply not true. The appropriate authorities in Australia were contacted, and enough evidence was presented that formal investigations by the relevant New South Wales authorities were initiated. These investigations particularly revolved around care provided by Dr. Maendel, and by two Bruderhof nurses. Whatever the Australian and, more specifically, the interests of New South Wales might be in possible violations of accepted medical care and civil death-registration practices, this story also resonated strongly with some former Bruderhofers. In the information that began to emerge, some leavers heard echoes of experiences other former Bruderhofers have had over many years while dealing with the Bruderhof organization and finding barriers, both to accessing their loved ones still in the Bruderhof, and getting straight answers to what in most societal contexts would be seen as reasonable questions. To some it seemed that their personal experiences might help inform non-Bruderhof investigators of factors they might otherwise overlook. Not surprisingly, the local press and other media also recognized that behind the initial story there might be other backstories, of interest to their audiences. Also no surprise was that their findings and reports elicited criticism both from the Danthonia community, and from some in the general public who felt the reporting was biased and sensationalized. Others, including some leavers, also joined the discussions, and provided context and different perspectives on the range of issues raised in the reports. These issues, besides the strictly medico-legal aspects addressed by the medical tribunal that was convened, include the meaning of individual decision making and “free will” in making end-of-life decisions in the context of a highly-centralized social structure such as the Bruderhof, and the related issue of the Bruderhof’s policy of severely restricting, physically and psychologically, contact by “leavers” with their families still in the Bruderhof. The KIT Newsletter cannot present more than an incomplete picture of what remains an unfinished story. However, there has been sufficient interest expressed in having this story aired for the benefit of those who might otherwise be unaware of it, that we have selected one report, which (with the permission of its author) gives a fairly comprehensive view of much that went into the civil investigation’s findings of the Medical Tribunal of New South Wales, and the decision, rendered by Justice Michael Elkaim on March 8th, 2013, in “Health Care Complaints v. Dr. Maendel”. This article, by Eamonn Duff, titled “Family Divided as Doctor Cleared of Misconduct”, and published March 10th, 2013 in the Sydney Morning Herald, also summarizes some of the background information on the sad story of Irene Maendel’s death, and presents some of the competing views of the Bruderhof and its supporters with those of both the local civil and medical authorities and some leavers. Though too long for inclusion here, we note two additional sources of background for those interested in a fuller picture. One is the actual text of the tribunal’s findings. The second, which may be more interesting generally, is the transcript of a TV program concerning the case, which appeared on March 12 th, 2013, under the title “The Death of a Believer”, narrated by Br yan Seymour, in which he presents the range of issues largely through the voices of people within and outside Danthonia (including some with whom some KIT people will be familiar). We provide the links for those who wish to review these. This story is not finished. First, some aspects of the particular case of the death of Irene Maendel, and whether it was preventable, are still under investigation. Second, some in the news media will doubtless remain interested in not just the follow-up of this specific case, including the investigation into the role of the two nurses, and some further questions about Chris Maendel’s actions, along with other aspects of the somewhat s ecretive organization, upon which this case has cast both light and shadow and which might contribute to an understanding of what happened. Third, for people familiar with the Bruderhof, it will be interesting to see whether this unwanted publicity for the Bruderhof results in increased openness, or simply leads to more “circling of the wagons”. Time will tell, but at this time it is hard to see any winners in this ongoing saga. Here follows the March 10th report, by Eamonn Duff published in the Sydney Morning Herald. With thanks we acknowledge the permission for reprint.
Family Divided as Doctor Cleared of Misconduct
By Eamonn Duff - Sun-Herald senior investigative writer A doctor who managed his sick mother through palliative care and then buried her on private land without informing authorities has been found not guilty of professional misconduct at a medical tribunal. Chris Maendel was the resident doctor of a restrictive Christian movement called the Bruderhof when, in March 2010, his mother, Irene, collapsed on the sect’s property, in northern NSW, while she was visiting from the US. After Dr Maendel diagnosed a possible stroke, his professional obligation was to transport her to hospital and arrange the appropriate CT scans. Instead, he placed faith over medicine and supervised her decline on the Bruderhof compound where, “su rrounded by the love of Jesus”, she died six days later. Dr Maendel buried his mother on site and filled out her death certificate. Neither the police nor coroner were notified. The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) brought Dr Maendel before a tribunal in Sydney’s District Court. On Fr iday – the third anniversary of Mrs Maendel's death – Judge Michael Elkaim ruled that, while two lesser penalties of unsatisfactory professional conduct had been established, Dr Maendel should not be found guilty of the professional misconduct complaint that could have led to him being deregistered.
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The controversial case is the first before the tribunal that relates specifically to medical board policy on treatment of family members. In his judgment, Justice Elkaim revealed the not-guilty decision was far from unanimous. “Two members took a very dif ferent view,” he said. Bernadette Tobin, director of the Plunkett centre for ethics at St Vincent’s Hospital, said the case should serve as a warning, adding: “A doctor who treats a seriously ill parent runs the risk of confusing his role of doctor with his responsibilities as a member of the sick person’s family … collaborative decision making is impossible if one and the same person is acting in both roles.”' While Dr Maendel refused to comment after the five-day hearing, a war of words has erupted between family members who are divided by his actions. Mrs Maendel’s son James, who lives in Michigan, said his mother’s “voice, life and inherent va lue as a person” had been “blatantly disregarded”. He said: “Had a responsible medical approach been taken and my mother afforded the dignity of a proper diagnosis, there is an excellent chance she would still be with us.” Another son Len, who claims to speak on behalf of seven other siblings, insisted his brother acted appropriately. “Like many seniors who value their independence, it was our dear mother’s wish to die with dignity at home. A woman of faith and intelligence, she understood both the benefits and limits of medical science.” Dr Maendel was found to have had insufficient information to determine if the stroke was too severe to treat. A revealing, handwritten letter from a young Bruderhof sister called Dorrie Rhodes raised further questions about his mother’s actual cond ition.
In her account of Mrs Maendel’s final days, Ms Rhodes wrote: “I was so touched how several times when I entered the room or came over to her, she waved at me and smiled … it was also very hard to witness her puzzlement over why she was in bed and what had happened. She asked several times, ‘What happened to me?’ or ‘Am I sick?’ She wanted to get up to take a shower. We were at a loss at what to tell Irene about her situation. It was just so new for all of us.” Dr Maendel admitted he was guilty of unsatisfactory conduct when he failed to take “any steps” to seek appropriate care. The court was advised by a medical expert that Mrs Maendel could have expected at least a 30 per cent chance of full recovery had she seen a neurosurgeon. But according to Dr Maendel’s brother Len, that misses the point: “Faced with a life-threatening condition, she did not wish for aggressive medical interventions with a poor prospect of success.” He said “the basic human right to decide such matters for oneself” had been respected. *
Links to additional stories:
1. TV Program The death of a believer - Today Tonight March 12,
2013 by Bryan Seymour. http://au.news.yahoo.com/todaytonight/lifestyle/article/-/16350278/the-death-of-a-believer/
2. YouTube Video The death of a believer - Today Tonight 12 Mar
2013 - YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK0H7ZvKPh4
3. HCCC Tribunal Decision Health Care Complaints Commission v
Dr Maendel 08Mar2013 http://www.mcnsw.org.au/resources/1328/HCCC%20v%20Dr%20Maen del.pdf
The Forest River Affair, 1955-57: Loves Labors Lost? A Wheathill Teenager’s Perspective
ByTim Johnson These memories are prompted by the recent reminiscences and observations of George Maendel [September KIT Newsletter 2012, page 10] and Ruth Baer Lambach [December KIT Newsletter 2012, page 3] regarding the tumultuous relationship between the Bruderhof and the Schmiedeleut Hutterites, especially during the critical period from August 1955 through June 1957. Their perspectives are those of children to whom the Forest River Colony had been their home, for several years since its founding five or six years earlier. To supplement their observations, I offer here some personal perspectives of a Bruderhof child of the Paraguayan and English hofs, who arrived as a sixteen year old at Forest River with his parents and seven younger siblings in mid-November 1955, and left with the last “Bruderhof” vehicle to depart, on June 21, 1957. While growing up in the Bruderhof, I knew of the Hutterites, both from the Anabaptist literature to which we were exposed and from accounts of the limited direct contacts between the two groups. These included the first long visit by the Bruderhof’s founder, Eberhard Arnold, in 1930/31, and a much briefer visit by my dad, Guy Johnson, to several South Dakota colonies, during the August to November 1940 North American visit he and Hans Meier made in an effort to find a place for resettlement of the Cotswold Bruderhof in North America. While that specific objective was not achieved, the visit was instrumental in the arrangements made with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for resettlement in Paraguay, a few months later, of the entire Cotswold membership. It also kept alive the direct contacts with the Hutterites who had visited the Rhönbruderhof after Eberhard’s visit, and later visited, and assisted the Primavera hofs in the late 1940’s, bringing among other practical goods, some bicycles for inter-hof travel. My father was next in the US from February 1954 to January 1955, during which he was involved in the establishment of Woodcrest. Not long after his return to Wheathill, it was decided that my dad would return with his family to Woodcrest, in New York State, which was a prospect I found exciting and looked forward to. By the summer of 1955, though our own travel was delayed until October, we heard not only of the interest of other “communitarians” (Macedonia, Kingswood, and others), but also of interactions with some Hutterites, especially at a colony in North Dakota. Things were moving fast, and before we left we heard of the escalating rift between Bruderhof-leaning Forest River (North Dakota) members and other Schmiedeleut folks, at Forest River and its “mother colony” in Manitoba. We heard, among other things about which I found out much more once we had arrived in Forest River, of the bitter denunciations of both the Bruderhof’s representatives and their Forest River supporters by the council of eleven Hutterite ministers, in September 1955. We left England by ship on my 16th birthday, and arrived (via Halifax) in New York on the last day of October, 1955. Until shortly before we left Wheathill, we were unaware that plans were already being hatched at Woodcrest for our family to continue almost immediately after our Woodcrest arrival to Forest River, where we understood that my dad, a new but “unco n-
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firmed” Servant of the Word, was to assist in guiding the new “Bruderhof”, forged from the bitter September divorce (exco mmunication) of those Hutterites who chose not to accede to the demands of the senior Schmiedeleut leadership. Thus it was that a contingent of about twenty people set off from New York by train to Chicago and onward to Minneapolis, from which we took a bus to Grand Forks, in early November, 1955. In addition to the ten members of our family, the group contained several Hinkeys and Ostroms, plus a young Hutterite woman who had been spending some weeks in Woodcrest. I found the trip interesting, though tiring, and was a bit dismayed to see how flat the terrain became, and how in Minnesota already there were patches of melting snow, from an early winter storm. There were enormous fields, but where were the people? At Grand Forks we were met and taken the last forty miles by Forest River vehicles, to arrive at Forest River as darkness fell. As the gravel road dipped into the little valley that was home to the Colony, I felt more apprehension than joy, as I knew that the Hutterite attitude to education was very different from both the Bruderhof's and my own, and before I’d left Wheathill, after passing my first GCE’s [General Certificate of Education], I’d hoped to go on eventually to college. As we stepped out to meet bearded men and kopftuched women who’d assembled to greet us, I felt I’d have to put off any such personal aspirations for at least a few years. Instead, I felt stranded in a cold, flat, and strange world, where my future would probably be in farming and manual labor more than in teaching or other more intellectually stimulating pursuits which I had dreamt of at Wheathill. Not an appealing prospect! And yet, we could hardly have asked for a warmer welcome than the one we received that evening, and in subsequent weeks, as we came to know our new hosts. The next weeks were a jumble of mixed and sometimes contradictory impressions of the Hutterites and their lifestyles, and of their efforts to adapt to the “Bruderhof” ways they had recently adopted, even as we also struggled with our own challenges of adapting to this setting, so different from rural England, in so many ways! Already in the first few days, we experienced some of the dissonance that was often to bubble to the surface as these cultures met, and sometimes clashed, in the next twenty months. Take the matters of recreation, and musical instruments as examples. In the Bruderhof, musical instruments and what could be considered “folk singing” in German and English, were integral parts of the community’s daily life. However, when Hans Meier (visiting senior “Servant” when we arrived) played a M ozart duet on his violin with my brother Barnabas on his recorder, some days after our arrival, during the “love meal” for o ur group and the next contingent that had just arrived by truck from Woodcrest, it caused a considerable stir, and lengthy discussion on why the Hutterites rejected such music, and indeed most nonreligious singing, whilst the Bruderhof enjoyed both instrumental music and multi-part harmonious singing, not limited to religious services or songs. While the emerging consensus clearly favored the Bruderhof position, there were residual undercurrents of ambivalence and dissent. At the same time, we immediately found ourselves embraced warmly by almost all the Hutterites who had stayed, after the schism a few weeks earlier. Speaking from my perspective, I found myself much engaged with the youth of the Colony, in which I quickly found I had, by default, a major role in setting up the “youth group” somewhat in the pattern of the one I’d left in Wheathill, along with Hans Uli Boller, who had a more formal leadership role, as an already-baptized and well-respected member of the Bruderhof. All the young men and women seemed ex-
cited to be learning from each other, and sharing new experiences. Sometimes there were differences to be ironed out, and also some problems to be overcome in dealing with older “non youth” members who were obviously uncomfortable with the social mingling of the sexes, and with such group activities as ice hockey, group hikes in the snowy valley, and bonfire-sing-alongs on the frozen river (“tools of the devil!”), and soon some folk dancing, along with the occasional musical instrument or radio. There was also the “problem” of continuing formal education, since the Hutterites traditionally did not continue formal schooling beyond about age fifteen, in their “German” (Hutterisch dialect, somewhat akin to Yiddish) schools, whereas some of us young folks, and some of our elders (notably Johnson, Ostrom and Hinkey parents, but also some Hutterite parents) were eager to go beyond eighth grade. This was initially addressed by allowing the older children to take correspondence High School courses through the Dakota agricultural extension system. By early the next year, 1956, youngsters from the eighth grade upward were allowed to attend the local Inkster township public school, though that also was not entirely smooth sailing for some of us! I personally was withdrawn from the school a semester before I was to have graduated by the Colony/Bruderhof (over the objections of the High school principal, Mr. Day), for my alleged greater interest in academics than in the spiritual life of the Bruderhof. To that “sin”, I had to plead “guilty”, and this landed me back at the Colony, mainly helping with the colony’s four thousand chickens, and preparing them and their eggs for market! But since that’s my personal story within the bigger story of Forest River, I’ll save it (and its happier ending, for me) for another time and place! Life on a big North Dakota farm Colony revolved not just about the “church”, but necessarily about the constant hard work required to make a living. While this could be very hard, and certainly different from the way we’d farmed in England, it was also exciting in its own way. We were quite surprised at the level of responsibility vested in quite young children, in such matters as running the farm machinery. In England, I could not be a licensed driver until age eighteen, yet here within a week, my young Hutterite friends started me driving tractors and farm trucks, and my twelve year old brother and I happily learned to maneuver the little John Deere “M” tractors through their paces, as we transported goods to different farm departments. Driving permits could be obtained at age fourteen, but most Hutterite males were quite accomplished tractor drivers by about the time they reached ten. Josh Maendel, at seventeen the most senior lad in my immediate circle, was already probably the most accomplished driver of the big caterpillar-track type TD 18 tractor, and his skill was highly respected by more senior men. I was amazed how gently he could maneuver the big hydraulic blade, to raise snow around the houses, to window sill level, to provide insulation against the bitter blizzards, and I felt honored to be with him on that tractor, learning how one manipulated the levers to accomplish the complex tasks involved in such an enterprise. In stark contrast to such responsibilities for the young men, women were not allowed to drive, though this barrier quickly began to fall with the Bruderhof invasion. Indeed, within a few months, I was giving driving lessons with the little Studebaker coupe to my sister Joy, aged fifteen! Arriving at the start of a North Dakota winter presented its own set of challenges. I remember within a couple of days of our arrival having to figure out, with my dad, how to put in storm windows, and then fix clear plastic sheeting for additional insulation against the penetrating cold. With the help of our new Hutterite neighbors (all very helpful, even when bemused by our “English” ignorance of matters that were second nature to them),
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we figured out how to clean the interlocking sets of sooty chimney segments that snaked upward through the house, to release the heat from our lignite-burning stove in our living room. Certainly more exciting, though no less challenging, was being aroused late at night, a week or so after our arrival, to join my dad and most of the colony’s men to catch and load onto an enormous (non-Bruderhof) enclosed truck almost the entire flock of over six hundred turkeys, by the dim light of one or two bulbs, plus a kerosene light or two outside. Thanksgiving loomed, and the beautiful big birds were destined for American tables, in a holiday ceremony I had not yet fully grasped. I was told the reason the truck arrived only late in the evening was both because the well-fed Toms would be relatively easy to handle in their somewhat sleepy state, and because the colony would be paid by the fully loaded weight of the truck, minus its initial weight, and the Tom turkeys had just had their evening meal, but had not yet digested it fully, so in a sense we were getting credit for the weight of what by morning would become their excrement. Clever chaps, those farmers! The turkeys were not only large, but also obviously had strong objections to leaving their warm barn quarters to be hoisted by their back legs through bitter cold sub-zero night air into the truck. Perhaps, their walnut-size brains notwithstanding, they had some premonitions of their imminent fates. Certainly, they put up strenuous resistance, and people like my dad and I who had no prior experience controlling a wing-flapping thirty pound Tom found it quite a challenge. My dad was smoking his handwarming pipe during this exercise, until the flapping wing of one of the objecting birds managed to knock his pipe out of his mouth, and half-way across the barn, to the amusement of Josh and others, and my dad’s chagrin! When the task was completed, I think around 3am., and the truck had left, the tired but exercise-heated men made their way to the communal kitchen, for a well-deserved high-calorie meal (bread, butter, various meat cuts), washed down by some of their Colony-produced homemade beer and wine. By the time my dad and I finally took the short walk home, I believe the temperature had dropped to twenty below, and the night stars danced above us! The bitter cold of that first winter seemed to seep into almost everything we did. The Eleanor Farjeon lines about “snow had fallen, snow on snow”… could often have been our motto. A notable and memorable example, for me and other ill-clad shepherds and angels was the first Christmas Eve pageant, held in the cow-barn, where we were protected from the wind, but the air was cold enough that the water troughs were caked in ice. The ceremony was lovely, with the candlelight bathing the holy couple, the baby, the animals, and us assorted angels and shepherds, but by the time the Christmas story had been read, I was not the only one close to passing out from hypothermia. I’m sure the original Bethlehem was never this cold! Meanwhile, what of the Hutterite/Bruderhof relationship? I for one had not immediately on arrival fully appreciated the pain of the schism both for those who had opted to join the Bruderhof, nor the possibly greater pain of those who had left Forest River to return to New Rosedale, or other places. I realized soon that the house our family had moved into had, until a few weeks earlier, been occupied by the Paul Maendel family. How must they have felt about being recalled to New Rosedale, and Bruderhof carpetbaggers taking over their home? As an aside: one of the facts that fascinated me about the Hutterites was their family sizes: the home we occupied was between those of Joe (Senior) and Mary Maendel, parents to fifteen living children, and Allan and Edna Baer, with already ten children under the age of thirteen, and with more to come. Bruderhof families also tended to be
large, but no match for Hutterite fertility rates, which I later discovered were the closest approximation demographers could find to “natural” human fertility limits. These observations were among factors that much later helped to launch me into a career in Population and Reproductive Health! Though the majority of the Forest River Hutterite Colony had chosen to cast their lot with the Bruderhof, the numerical split was not overwhelmingly in the Bruderhof’s favor. Basically, five families had departed: seven had stayed. Within extended families, there had also been painful separations, and I think at first there may have been some hope of partial reconciliations, though realistically the prospects of such an outcome were probably doomed from the start. This became clearer in time, as intermittent visits were made to Forest River by some Hutterite preachers, and by some Bruderhofers to Manitoba. Each side was too sure of the rightness of its own positions and actions, and the basis for those positions, and in the case of the Hutterites of the perfidy of some Forest River members, for any success by those who sought for common ground. Yet, within each faction, I think there must have been considerable soul searching. By the end of 1956, the idea of moving the entire community to the East was under active consideration. Perhaps some already had premonitions that not all would choose to make such a move, but I first heard such rumblings in early 1957. As time went on, Forest River transformed more fully into a “Bruderhof”, as more families came out from Woodcrest, and a lso Koinonia, and as the six “Primavera Boys” arrive, with a pproaching Spring, to help work the farm, and also as more original inhabitants moved to Woodcrest. Yet, in many respects Forest River never did fully break from the Hutterites, as the events of the final months were to show. One major source of tension may have been related less to Hutterite/Bruderhof intrinsic cultural differences than to the necessity in North Dakota of recognizing that the growing season was short, and enormous efforts had to be expended during that season, in preparing the soil, planting crops in quick but orderly succession, and then harvesting the produce from several thousand acres on the main farm, and the “East” farm, about eighteen miles away. The Hutterites knew this, and knew that the men would often have to work day and night in the fields and barns, and could not stop for spiritual clarifications, worship meetings, and so forth, whereas some Bruderhofers, very likely feeling spiritually superior in doing so, felt that the essential “spirit” was somehow being made subservient to the need to “make hay while the sun shines”. The more practical Hutterites, like all neighboring farmers, knew that there is a time and place for the different components of life, and could be quite frustrated by the apparent Bruderhof blindness to such rural Midwestern facts of life! A consequence of all this was that the financial situation of the deeply mortgaged Colony was gradually worsening, with inadequate attention to this reality by those at Forest River who espoused the standard Bruderhof line that “God will find a way”, contrasted with increasing concern not only by some members but also by external creditors. Eventually, the combination of problems within the Colony/Bruderhof’s membership circle, and the financial situation, combined with a feeling by many that the outreach mission of the Bruderhof would be better served by moving the community to the eastern US, led to an ever more rapidly deteriorating situation, so that by early Spring of 1957, the dissolution of the Forest River experiment was only a matter of time. The last few weeks were painful, and remained so in the memory of many caught up in the ugliness for many years after the split. The Colony went into some sort of receivership, the details of which have faded from my memory, but I do recall some
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Vol. XXV No 1 July2013
of the bewildering events, such as an auction to which neighbors and even some South Dakota colonists came. My brief diary notes for March 22, 1957, refer to the auction as an “absolute flop”, in which not more than a thousand dollars of equipment and other holdings were auctioned off. By some sort of prior arrangement (with the auctioneer? sheriff?) the auction was halted, and equipment and acreage that was up for sale were retained, since the offers did not reach some pre-set price levels. Meanwhile, in the actual “village” (hof), there were strange goings on, with separate meetings of the two main factions, those who were about to leave versus some of the established old guard, who understandably wanted to retain and salvage as much as they could in this debacle. People who until recently had been “brothers and sisters” were hardly talking to each other, though some on both sides did seem to try to mitigate some of the disaster that such a split, in the middle of the growing season, seemed to entail. As different groups left for the Eastward trek, heading for the unknowns of a new Bruderhof venture in Pennsylvania (via a few weeks’ stop in southern New York State), it was clear that one chapter had closed, as another was about to begin, for both the Bruderhof and for me. Departures were much more muted, as fewer and fewer people remained of those who had decided to remain with the Bruderhof group. By the time the Cadillac hearse, for which I was one of the drivers, left with its little load of passengers, as the last vehicle to leave on June 21, 1957, I could not help reflect on the contrast with the optimistic enthusiasm with which we’d been welcomed, just over twenty months earlier. Three weeks later, I found myself arriving, on July 15, as one of a small vanguard of mostly young people, as the Bruderhof took possession of the newly named Oak Lake, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and we prepared the site for the arrival of the main group, a couple of days later. Were we, individually and collectively, now about to have a more tranquil Community Life, after the upheavals of the past two years, or would new crises emerge? The crystal ball was clouded: only time would tell!
Eventually the IRS capitulated to the harassment, reduced the back taxes to 12.5 million dollars and allowed them the status of a church. Scientology has successfully infiltrated other government agencies and bodies such as the AMA (American Medical Association) and the BBB (Better Business Bureau). As I read, I kept thinking of Bruderhof techniques and how they deal with dissenters and apostates in keeping their public image untarnished. For those familiar with current movie stars, Tom Cruise is the most visible member of this church. He is worth billions in liquid assets and equally as much in property. While Scientology claims its membership is eight million, actual registered Scientologists are more like thirty thousand. Jenna Hill, an escapee and the niece of the current leader, sums up Scientology for most of those who have left: “To me, the church is a dangerous organization whose beliefs allow it to commit crimes against humanity and violate basic human rights.” There are ex-Scientologist groups for support and healing made up of fellow escapees who grasp the mysterious hold such groups have on their members.
8. Oh Heart, Where Are You Going?
By Susanna Alves – Part 5 Sixth Letter: Today is my birthday. Did you think of me? Everyone wished me happiness. It is so nice. I missed only one handshake and one happy pair of eyes, yours. I miss you so much. Even now. Would you were here. I long for your presence. I don’t feel the two years age difference as a problem anymore. Didn’t I tell you? I’ve sipped from the fountain of eternal youth. I’ll never grow old. Twenty years. Twenty years of life. What will the next twenty years bring? I’ll be forty. Let’s see: My oldest child will be sixteen or seventeen, and the other children – because I want a big family – will all be aged between six and fourteen. That’ll be, wait, six children if there is one every two years – or maybe more? I have a sense of sweet anticipation and joy when I imagine that one day I’ll be holding a child, a very tiny delicate being, in my arms. A treasure without equal. And whenever I think of the period preceding it, of the waiting, the anticipation, then I am full of bliss. The new life will grow, expand, move gently – how wonderful to be a mother. I have noticed this longing for motherhood before; the need to nurture, to dedicate myself completely to a tiny being. Of course there is a different kind of surrender of myself that precedes it, but how beautiful is this act of giving. The obliteration of one’s self has throughout time eternal been compared with absolute devotion to God and Christ. How beautiful – devotion; dedication; consecration. Your Friend.
Essential Reading for Those who have Experienced Totalist Religion
By Ruth Lambach In the latest issue of NYRB (New York Review of Books), April 15, 2013, there is a riveting article by Diane Johnson – Scientology: The Story. Diane reviews two books on Scientology: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright and Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer. Both of these books are over 400 pages so you might just get a copy of Diane Johnson’s engrossing review. My copy of the review has been underlined and read through such that I now have a dog eared, much abused copy. Because of libel laws the book by Wright will not be published in England, but here are some comments published in The Guardian: “Scientology is a neat reflection of the worst aspects of American culture with its repulsive veneration of celebrity; it’s weird attitudes towards women, sex, healthcare and contr aception; its promise of equality among its followers but actual crushing inequality… It is, in its own dark way, the inevitable r eligion to emerge from 20th–century America.” Most frightening to me is how Scientology achieved the status of religion in the United States. According to Wright, in 1993 Scientology infiltrated the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) after they were charged one billion dollars for back taxes. After that, IRS agents received no less than two thousand legal actions.
Seventh Letter: Last night – it was already after 11:00pm – I lay in bed and thought of you: Wondering if you too were still awake and thinking of me. All day long I had felt a strong bond between us, and this feeling followed me around all the time. I felt your thoughts all through the day because of my birthday. Do you also feel this strong certainty, this closeness, although we are so far apart geographically? Two things make me happy.
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The first: On Saturday we got a message over the radio: “If Simone comes to Primavera for the work-camp in July then maybe Colin Wood can take over her job.” No-one here had heard any of this before. It was a surprise not only to me. We assume someone in Primavera suggested that I take part at the next work-camp. I look forward to it, I confess. That is, if it’ll come to pass. Although it means that I’ll be in Primavera while you are back here. But this time it’ll be diffe rent, and I promise even now: I’ll write to you regularly and send my letters. I’ll never do this again, forbidding ourselves to write to each other. I’m fed up with it. Secondly, my father will be in Asunción soon, for a few days. Can you imagine how this pleases me? Later, 10:15am. –I was interrupted. Alex arrived at the office and suddenly I wasn’t alone with you anymore. I am now in the room where we usually have our second breakfast. Anyhow, it is warmer in here. Winter has come with a vengeance. The icy south wind is whistling through every crack. It makes the office dreadfully cold. My birthday yesterday was ever so nice. It began from the moment I woke. Martha Hollder took over my breakfast duty so I could stay a little longer in bed. During breakfast there was nonstop singing. Congratulations arrived all day long. At midday, when I returned to the Upper House for lunch, I found a letter from Brazil, from Birdie, of course. And at 3:00pm a telegram arrived, also from her: “Feliz cumpleaños Simone saludos todos”. Then over the radio there were birthday wishes from my parents, and at 5:00pm Birdie’s father stumbled into the office proudly holding a most beautiful bouquet of red and yellow roses. Half an hour later, Liese and Martha arrived to collect me. They had organised a birthday party at the Upper House. My cousin Carla and my brother Martin joined us too, and it was ever so ‘gemütlich’, cozy. On my ‘birthday plate’ I found a tiny brooch: A boy and girl dancing round a may-pole. There was a note, it read: “Dear Lilofee, you beautiful young one, this breathtaking item comes to you without any ulterior motives, from your beloved…” It was signed “Aquarius” and “the Wizard.” I laughed myself silly. But I must explain. Once upon a time I sent Carla and Evie, who were then in Primavera, some chocolate, with a note which said: “From Lilofee, the beautiful young one, held hostage by Aquarius and the Wizard at the bottom of the deepest lake”. You know, the fairy princess Lilo, imprisoned by Aquarius, having to have his children at the bottom of the sea, as the sad and romantic ballad goes. I pretended that I was Lilofee and Carla and Evie were my dear sisters weeping by the water’s edge and desperately searching for me. Since then, Carla calls herself ‘the Wizard’, and Evie is ‘Aquarius’. But there was even more: Just now I discovered a birthday card on my desk from my grandmother in Switzerland. Not to forget, of course, that you are my Friend. How can I ever express my gratitude? I will not try and attempt to, I’ll never find adequate words. But I want you to know. Every day is so long – how long must I wait? Come soon! I think of you. Your Friend.
at the office till now. The clock’s ticking accompanies me while I work. Accounts today! I just read in the radio book that the ‘Aurora’ river boat is not operating so you’ll arrive on the ‘Stella Maris’. How happy I am. Still thirty six hours to go, but then you’ll all be back. Then you will be back. I must get through the thirty six hours somehow and I will work, work and work so that I won’t think too much of the long wait. “My heart is like a skylark” – you know the song. That’s my song within, fluttering skyward, then down, to rise again high into the heavens of joy, quite high up and up. How beautiful life is! Because I’m allowed to be Your Friend.
It was another Sunday, just after the Gemeindestunde meeting. Simone was full of joy and gratitude. Her heart was jubilant: Father in Heaven, it sang, Your gifts have been so bountiful. What else is there to do but to surrender all that I am, all that I have, think and feel. And even in so doing, I am still far from doing enough. You love me, You distinguish me and seek me out because You need me. Yet I run from You to pursue my own concerns and notions. But You follow me, you touch me quietly on the shoulder, and I hear the word: “Wait.” I turn round and there You are. And I find You everywhere, filling me and surrounding me, and quenching all those tremendous needs of mine. And You become so overwhelming, that at once I am nothing.
Evie and Simone found themselves at the office one week-day evening, after supper, sharing the evening watch at the Old House. While Simone wrote in her diary, Evie sat at Julius Hilpert’s desk and was looking very cosy in the wic ker-chair. She was studying. Simone thought, how nice if this was Rupert instead of Evie. But I mustn’t do this, she thought. It’s dangerous. I’ll be ru nning head first into exactly the situation I need to avoid. ‘Want to avoid’, she nearly wrote. But does she really want to? Isn’t there already an ingredient that doesn’t want to anymore but has to be told it must, no, that must already be told it must? She delivered a huge sigh. The sigh drew Evie’s attention. “What do you write in your diary?” she asked. Simone thought Evie was just nosy. But then she began reading out aloud. About her longing for a friend, the feelings that were becoming more acute; how for the first time she sensed that maybe Rupert would be ‘he’. And she read on and on, everything as it developed, including all the un-sent letters. Afterwards, Simone was amazed that she had done this. Yet instead of feeling threatened that Evie now knew so much about her, she felt incredibly close to her. Will she tell her Father? Simone’s father had arrived in Asunción. The day before, Simone and Evie, frozen to the bones and needing the warmth, sat in the sun with their backs against the far boundary wall of the Upper House, by the volley-ball playground. “Ach, Evie,” Simone groaned, “How on earth am I going to tell my father? How shall I begin?” She paused and shivered. “I have to. I’ve already made remarks to my mother in a letter, and now I just can’t let him go home empty-handed.” “Oh I know how it is,” Evie said, commiserating. “I too had to speak with my parents about these things, and every time it was terribly difficult.” “I have never done this before – I don’t know at all how to begin,” Simone moaned.
Eighth Letter: Today is the 12th of June, a public holiday: ‘Paz del Chaco’. There’s a Sunday atmosphere all around. I have been all alone
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But then it all happened quite naturally. After breakfast, Simone continued sitting at the table with her father after everybody else had disappeared. While they smoked a couple of cigarettes she asked him what he knew about the present goings-on regarding the Asunción household group. He replied that Barbara Thompson, during her recent visit in Ibaté, had recounted many of the group’s conversations held during the Campamento excursion. “Ach yes,” Simone said, “that was a great trip! All those talks...” ”Did anything actually develop further, in any way?” her father asked. “Oh yes. And it is about this that I’d like to have a word with you. Let’s go out one of these evenings?” He was keen. His eyes showed it. “Werner had a short word with me,” he said. “He seemed very happy about the talks you had with him. But he never went into details.” “Oh,” Simone said, “I asked him not to go into details b ecause I want to tell you myself. Tonight, if there’s no meeting?” “Good.” Her happiness that her father was in Asunción took up much room inside of her. It left little space for longings about Rupert. Although, of course, in the back of her mind she realised that he was always there, this friend of hers. And once he was back, she told herself, she’d celebrate his return with a whopping tea party! Simone went out with her father that night, after supper, to the Unión Germanica restaurant, for a cup of coffee and some Lucky Strikes cigarettes. And there she told him everything about her and Rupert, from the day it all began till his departure for Primavera; the conversations with Werner; the serious admonishments from Alex and Hope; and, above all, of the great joy she was experiencing. A noisy group entered the restaurant. Before they arrived, Simone and her father had been the only guests. The newcomers unsettled them. So they left, and walked slowly up Herrera Street till they reached the IPS building, then back again. No-one else was in sight. Only Simone and her father. Now and then a bus roared past, making a great noise. And while they walked, he told her how it was when he was young and searching for friendship and love. Promises of Shifting Horizons Another lunch time announcement by Alex: The young Asunción Bruderhof-house folk were all to return, arriving back over the coming weekend, despite new rumours about continuing student strikes and further school closures. Alex also raised the matter of the July work camp in Primavera. By unanimous agreement Simone was to go and participate. Now she began to really look forward to this, although she was also a bit scared. She didn’t know any of the other participants and had no idea how such camps functioned. But she knew that it would be very good for her. A feeling of happy anticipation was growing already and would surely overcome any silly fear. The thing was, she dreaded change, all that was unusual, unknown, different. What would it contain? How would it affect her? Would she be overwhelmed or disappointed? She tended to run away from guests and visitors because of her fears. She knew, however, that once she pushed herself a little and banned scruples and questions, everything always fell into place. If only she tried harder, surely she’d learn how to achieve a state of emptiness, of openness towards the future and all that was new and unknown. And then God would take care of her and all fears would disappear. Yes, this she had to try for.
This also, naturally, applied to her new friendship with Rupert. Since Lucy’s and Albert’s engagement she had caught herself spending too many thoughts on the future. She allowed herself to have a ‘peep’. It was the same old story, oh she knew it only too well: Temptation raising its head again. Just before falling asleep that day, there was something like a voice saying to her, “You must live for the moment, in the moment, in the way God has commanded you to live.” This reminded her of another time when she had heard that inner voice telling her: “Aren’t you loving your friend more than you should?” She had listened in shock. No, she had answered, I’m doing what God said I should: Love my neighbour as myself. “No,” that voice continued, “I think you’ve forgotten. That’s only half the story. It says, though shalt love God above all and thy neighbour as thyself.” It shut her up. Simone thought, nevertheless, that she was more obedient now. But the fight was still there to be fought and won and the battles would probably continue for a good while longer. At least until – well, until everything became clear, until God spoke His word, the great ‘Yes’, or the great ‘No’. At least at this precise moment she could say in all honesty that her will was as God’s will. She wished for only His answer, not her own. In the evening, Simone sat with Evie again and read out aloud more of her diary. She had written about her problems with her parents, the many quarrels and crises she had suffered, partly because of her mother’s impatience, partly because of her mother’s chronic health problems and the added demands on Simone because of it, plus her father’s infrequent presence with the family, or his habit of keeping shtum instead of taking a stand when critical moments arose. “I’m quite surprised,” Evie said to Simone, “one doesn’t n otice any negative effect at all on you – you with your happy nature!” “I’ve probably managed to triumph over it all,” Simone said jestingly. She felt embarrassed about Evie’s appreciative descri ption of her. “You’re such a sensitive one,” Evie continued, “you have all those incredible feelings and emotions.” Simone now became really self-conscious, but proudly so. Oh yes, what a delicate, sensitive girl she was! But there was, of course, the other side of the coin, and that could be quite depressing: all those wild feelings cascading about and tearing and pulling her hither and thither. If only she wouldn’t have so many and such strong ones, how easy life would be! Just look at this new friendship… But she had to remind herself once more that it was God who gave her the feelings in the first place. It was up to her to learn how to cope with them. At times they were a ‘strength’, at others a ‘weakness’. She had to learn to use them as God intended them to be used. Rupert’s Return And then the next students’ strike happened. Why, with what aims, Simone thought they themselves didn’t seem to know. It looked to her as if they were on strike just for the sake of it. And because of it, Simone found herself in ‘Mucky Hollow’ at the Upper House during the morning, and not at work at the office. ‘Mucky Hollow’ was the tiny bedroom just off the dining room, which Evie shared with Carla. Strikes hither, strikes thither, she thought. She was in no mood to go on thinking about this. It wasn’t a week yet since Rupert had come back and she really wanted to think about him.
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On that Saturday evening when the group was expected back from Primavera, the plan for some of the Asunción household members had been to go out for an evening of folk songs with a family of Bruderhof-house friends and acquaintances. Because of it, no-one from the Upper House went to meet the returning party at the harbour. Anyhow, Simone had made it her firm intention not to go. She was frightened of her feelings and worried about herself and of Rupert looking at her. By ten o’clock they arrived back home from the folk song evening. As the small group walked into the large hall of the Upper House, there sat the travellers, having only just arrived, eating supper in the dining room. Shouts of happy “Good evenings” echoed. Simone shook Barbara’s hand, but only Barbara’s. She couldn’t bring herself to even look at Rupert. He called out loudly: “Good evening!” Simone knew that most of it was levelled at her, but ignored him. She sat around for a long time, chatted, listened to what was being said, and it got later and later. She began feeling nervous. She got up and moved next to Barbara, who was sitting close to Rupert. But by now he ignored her too. Now everybody started to break up. Rupert went into the hall to collect his bags and as he returned, he and Simone bumped into each other. “Good evening, Rupert,” she said. He stopped. “Good evening.” His voice sounded as if he actually meant “at last!” “Had a good time?” “Of course!” They stood there facing each other with unease and embarrassment. Then Rupert: “Tell me, when will you celebrate your birthday? Or am I too late?” “Noooo...” she answered broadly, “tomorrow at three o’clock, in ‘The Shack’. All my friends are invited. You are coming, aren’t you?” ‘The Shack’ was the large bedroom shared by Simone and another five girls. “Yes of course I’m coming.” Rupert sounded as if he took it for granted. “Of course...” Simone mimicked him. He laughed. “It is that I have a good reason to ask,” he added apologetically. “Oh – yes? Oh, all right then.” She returned to the dining-room while he continued pottering about. A bit later he was back by the pile of luggage in the corner of the hall where a number of his co-travellers were gathering up their bags and belongings. Simone sat down in one of the wicker chairs and suddenly Rupert and she were alone. “The two weeks were so long!” she said. Rupert stopped rummaging to sit on top of the coffee table. They spoke about this and that, but his questioning eyes and searching glances bothered her. Barbara joined them, and John too, and gratefully the tone of the conversation changed. They were having a few laughs now, and Simone began feeling much better already. They must have been quite noisy, as Alex suddenly arrived scolding and sending everybody off to bed. Next day Evie said to her, “Oh Simone, you should have seen yourselves, it looked so cute when the two of you sat there, you in the chair and Rupert on the little table. Really sweet! Also – your faces...” Simone avoided Evie’s eyes and pretended to ignore her r emark. Something inside her was protesting. What was it? She only found out much later.
On the Sunday afternoon Simone held the planned tea party. Apart from her father, Rupert and her brother Martin, Simone had also invited Evie and Barbara plus four other girls, as well as John and another of the lads. At the start everyone seemed embarrassed. Rupert left. He returned a short while later with a small parcel which he placed in front of Simone. She was curious. “Does it bite?” she asked. “Of course not!” His voice was full of happy anticipation. It was an untidy package. She undid the red ribbon. “Oh Rupert!” she said. “What a lovely gift.” From a cattle’s horn he had carved a vase in the shape of a lily. A wider, shorter cut of horn was crafted into a little container topped with a small lid carved from wood. It was all fixed onto a tear-drop shaped base and the set painted in black varnish. “This – for me?” Her eyes were burning a little and a heat-wave covered her face. Everybody said “Ah” and “Oh”, and “How nice,” but it meant more than a mere birthday gift and they all saw that. The atmosphere was even more strained now and it took a while till the feel of the party once more took on a lighter and easier note. At lunch that day, Simone had been sitting next to Rupert. She said to him, “By the way, we heard you singing at Lucy’s and Albert’s engagement party. The sound reached as far as Asunción. That one song in particular – what was it now?” She pretended she had forgotten the title. “The ‘Big Sunflower’ one?” “Yes, that’s the one.” She didn’t know there was such a song. “You must sing it for me, at the tea-party? ‘Big Sunflower’...” Rupert laughed. He had seen through her. But he didn’t sing it at the tea party, and by then Simone had forgotten it anyhow. After vesper she helped Ella and Liese in the kitchen with the washing-up and took a heavy tray laden with crockery into the pantry. She was alone there, putting the items away. Rupert passed by the open door, saw her and came in. He walked straight through, then stopped at the entrance to the dining-room, but with his back to Simone. It irritated her, so she ignored him. After a while he said: “Actually one could tell one-another lots of things!” “Hm-hmm.” “Do we want to?” “Oh, okay then.” “The house is again so full of people!” “Let’s meet at the wall then.” She knew that she hadn’t sounded enthusiastic. Rupert left. She continued putting the crockery away. She found this, that and the other to do. She was once again right in the midst of the old agony and agitation. “No, no!” a voice was pleading with her, while another force was drawing her toward Rupert. “I am not going!” the first voice continued defiantly. But she went. He was sitting on the wall, his face and eyes oh so full of expectations! It hit her with a sense of displeasure. I can’t do th is, she told herself. To be continued
Change of Address
Joy (nee Greenyer) Morrison Apt 1 Newborough House 3 Queen Mother Square Poundbury; Dorchester DT1 3BJ UK 01305 457479
Keep In Touch Newsletter
Vol. XXV No 1 July2013
________________________________________________________________________________________________ Contact Details Volunteers produce the Keep In Touch Newsletter. Next issue: Oct/Nov 2013 Please Submit Erdmuthe Arnold - Editor and Layout. +49(0)69 444099 firstname.lastname@example.org your Personal Ostendstraße 22, 60314, Frankfurt am Main, GERMANY. Stories Charles Lamar – Copy Editor. +1-415-386-6072 email@example.com st c/o SFCR, 755 Frederick St. 1 floor, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA. KIT: We want to enLinda Jackson – Email and Circulation Worldwide. firstname.lastname@example.org courage our readers to 7 Severn Street, Longridge, Lancashire, PR3 3ND, UK. submit personal accounts and stories on topics +44(0)1772-784473 or (mobile) +44(0)7703-133369 which are of interest to Dave Ostrom - Circulation USA and Canada. email@example.com ex Bruderhofers. Please 1530 Lydon Court, Clarkston, WA 99403, USA. send them electronically, Ruth Lambach – Editor of “Communal Ripples”. +1-773-274-2777 firstname.lastname@example.org as word.doc or pdf-file 7739 N. Eastlake Terrace, Chicago, IL 60626, USA. attachments to make the Margot Purcell - Address Lists. +1-219-324-8068 email@example.com work easier for those of 2095 South Emmas Lane, LaPorte, IN 46350, USA. us who edit and publish the Newsletter on a volSubscriptions The suggested annual contribution is US$ 20, UK£ 10 or Euro€ 15 untary basis. Typed letters can also be accepted The Newsletter is available via: email - full colour. (The preferred method) Please confirm email receipt to Linda Jackson. – as they can be easily printed paper - monochrome. converted. large A3 - monochrome. For the vision impaired. Send your submissions to Erdmuthe Arnold, or Depending on which currency you use, please send your donation: to any of the other KIT for North America: US$, Cash or Check payable to “Tim Johnson” +1-404-373-0633 Staff who are all listed 155 Garden Lane, Decatur, GA 30030, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org on the last page. for UK: UK£, PayPal UK, Bank Transfer or Cheque payable to “Raphael Vowles” Reading, Berkshire, UK. email@example.com +44(0)777 391 0044 An Unforeseen Bank transfer: Sort code: 40-47-58 Account: 85757290 Delay First Direct Bank, 40 Wakefield Road, Leeds, LS98 1FD, UK. from other countries: Currency converted to UK£ can also be deposited in to the account using: Dear KIT Family! IBAN: GB75MIDL 404758 85757290 or BIC: MIGLGB21720. I’m sorry for the delay in for Europe (Euro-zone): Bank Transfer or Eurocheque payable to “Anthony Lord” producing this KIT +49(0)21 57 3109 Newsletter issue; illness Johann-Finken-Str. 35, 41334 Nettetal, GERMANY. firstname.lastname@example.org was the reason – but here Bank transfer: VOBA Brüggen-Nettetal, Sort code: 32060362 Account: 2201052010 Ref: “KIT” is an up to date issue from other countries: Currency converted to Euro€ can also be deposited in to the account using: with nearly twice the IBAN: DE52 32060362 2201 0520 10 or BIC: GENODED1KBN. number of pages. I wish you good reading to Keep in Touch! Erdmuthe Arnold Yahoo Group see: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KIT-exBruderhof-CCI/ Web: KIT Newsletter - Archive. Anyone can join – it’s free, anonymous & easy. Address Correction: Please advise Margot Purcell.
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